As We Reel At The Debilitating Socio-Economic Impact Of Covid-19,Let Us Not Ignore Its Effect On Mental Health

Yesterday, it was reported by several news outlets that the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19—the global pandemic which has put the whole world on standstill—has passed the one million mark with 51,644 of those cases being fatalities.

Since its first appearance in late 2019 in the Wuhan city of China, the virus has had crippling impacts on the economic, social, etc standing of most if not all countries in the world. From the grounding of flights to the closing of industries to imposed national lockdowns to postponing of the Olympic games, the scourge has affected the world in magnitudes which have never been seen since World War II.

Like the Second World War, the COVID-19 pandemic will leave behind it horrifying and well-documented numbers of fatalities but another similarly horrifying impact on the virus which unfortunately won't get that much statistical attention is the impact the virus will have on the mental health of most people in the world.

Before COVID-19—or the Coronavirus as it is colloquially known—made its debut, the world was already in another intense fight against the increasing cases of mental health ailments around the world in the last few years.  Several factors had been put forward as causes for the upward trajectory of these cases and with the Coronavirus crisis bringing with it more economic and social challenges to the world, cases of mental health issues are set to increase at an even more accelerated rate.

To start with, the economic impact of the virus has already been immense and has been drawn in comparison to the 2008 financial crisis, the world's worst financial crisis hitherto. With most businesses, from airlines to coffee shops, being forced to close shop in order to keep the virus contained, experts have stated that joblessness is occurring at a way faster rate than in 2008. The capitalists are also feeling the financial impacts of the scourge with volatility being the status quo in many of the major stock markets as traders panic-sell their shares in fear of the virus collapsing the markets.

The effects of financial uncertainty on people's mental health are a given. After the 2008 crisis hit, it left behind a trail of suicide, anxiety, depression and other forms of mental health issues. With the financial impacts of Coronavirus pandemic predicted to rival or even exceed the 2008 crisis in impact, one can only imagine the trail of destruction it will leave.

Even during the crux of the 2008 crisis, those affected, from a trader who lost their entire portfolio in the stock market to a janitor who was retrenched, they still had the comfort of a hug or kiss from a loved one as solace in that difficult time. With social distancing and quarantining being some of the necessary measures to curb the spread of the virus, during this pandemic, those affected cannot even rely on the affection from friends and loved ones as consolation during.

In severely affected countries in Europe like Spain and Italy, there have been painful reports of those who have been caught with the virus dying alone whilst still in isolation and their loved ones not even having the chance to say their goodbyes. In Botswana, prior to the current lockdown the country is in, a 2-hour curfew had been imposed on funeral processions with the number of mourners set at a maximum of 50 people. This meant that the comfort that the bereaved normally counted on after the loss of a loved one—although it has proved to sometimes be very costly—could no longer be counted on as consolation, a situation that further debilitates them.

The Coronavirus pandemic— unlike other crises in recent memory— has hit hard every aspect of humanity, including right at its very nature. Humans are by nature and design social creatures who thrive most on interacting and fraternizing with each other through social settings like entertainment events, parks, pubs, malls, workplaces, schools, etc but with measures like the aforementioned social distancing,self-isolation and quarantining in place, they are making us act against our very own core wiring. Couple that with the financial uncertainty that has come part and parcel with the scourge and you have a people's mental capacity to handle difficult times being put to the ultimate test.

Luckily, despite this difficult epoch it currently finds itself in, we have also seen cases of humanity showing its ability to care and look out for each other. From landlords who have chosen to let tenants not pay rent to employers who have chosen to pay employees despite a halt in operations to some tech companies allowing customers to keep in contact for free, the Coronavirus pandemic has shown that when push comes to shove and a crisis threatens our very core being, humans have the ability to stand firm and persevere.

For those who are unable to mentally stand this difficult time, it does not mean that they lack the intrinsic human virtue of perseverance. They just need a little boost from their fellow humans to activate that virtue. A text message to a friend who has lost their job or a phone call to a relative who suffers from anxiety or depression can go a long way during this time. We as humanity can show COVID-19 that it may be able to break our lungs and body but one thing it will never count in its statistics of fatalities is our humanity.


  1. Wonderful piece,i am dissappointed with how most corporates has responded to this crisis in regards to mental health esp in BW,before govt interventions some were quick to halt salaries,some employees who are considered essential are not provided with transport,meals while they over working themselves out there,a bit disheartening to see


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