In yet another record daily spike in cases, the number of coronavirus cases in India rose by 19,906 on Sunday morning. India now has 5,28,859 cases. The toll rose by 410 to 16,095.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected 10,001,527 people and claimed 4,99,124 lives, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

We talked to Delhi-based psychiatrist Alok Sarin about how this pandemic will affect the society in the long term, the rising no. of suicide cases, impact of isolation on our mental health, how it will affect our collective memory, what kind of societal and cultural changes need to be made to help us move forward and much more.

Here are some of the questions Dr Sarin answered:

  1. The coronavirus pandemic has affected people of all classes. Some are stressed about financial security, some have been dislocated, etc. But this isn’t the first pandemic the human race has had to deal with. How have pandemics in the past shaped the society? Do you see any parallels when it comes to Covid-19 and it’s aftermath?
  2. How do people process something like a pandemic which will go on for a while and we will deal with its aftermath for years? Do people process a pandemic in a different way compared to a manmade disaster like 26/11 or 9/11?
  3. The lockdown could also have longer-term implications for how we remember time. How will we remember this lockdown in a year, a decade, or 50 years from now?
  4. What kind of role does effective or ineffective leadership play in how people deal with a pandemic?
  5. What kind of institutional support is required to help frontline workers process what’s happening during the pandemic and its associated trauma?
  6. With the rise of people reaching out for support and the need to provide care and attention increasing at home, how do you envision that such people, be it family or simply good friends, can invest their energies effectively without compromising on their own mental health?
  7. While suicides have always been a subject of conversation on mental health, this pandemic has brought about a new dimension. The trauma triggered by the isolation or losses suffered during the phase have driven some people to die by suicide. What are the some of the signs we can watch out for and ensure we are there for one another?