Mental health, work-life balance crucial for life after coronavirus, say experts

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Focusing on mental health and striking a positive work-life balance are crucial for countries to recover after the coronavirus pandemic has ended, experts said.

People around the world are in widespread isolation and practicing social distancing to curb the spread of the virus, but the mental toll of these measures is significant. Experts have previously said that social distancing is a risk factor for anxiety and depression, highlighting the need to focus on solving this issue once the pandemic comes to an end.

“Mental health has become a major focus point around the world following the heightened degree of anxiety and stress facing many of us,” said Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Managing Director of Dubai Science Park at a recent webinar convened by the Park, UAE state news agency WAM reported.

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“Sharing knowledge and expertise on effective coping mechanisms to strike a work-life balance that promotes our physical and emotional wellbeing will ensure we have the tools to manage the psychological impact of COVID-19 today and in the post-coronavirus world,” he added.

In particular, workers on the front line fighting the coronavirus, such as medical staff, are at higher risk of developing mental health problems.

“One day this virus will be a memory but one of the lessons we must learn is the importance of mental health because these workers will face a huge challenge post-COVID-19. The government will cope with this effectively as good mental health is a key pillar of the UAE’s vision to create a world-class healthcare industry,” added Dr Adil Sajwani, a family physician and member of the UAE’s National Awareness Team for COVID-19, WAM reported.

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Staying safe in lockdown

While in lockdown, many have looked for alternative measures to keep fit and active – an important aspect of maintaining mental wellbeing, according to experts.

However, Sarah Rasmi, a licensed psychologist, told the webinar that people need to be careful to not put too much pressure on themselves to succeed in personal fitness and development goals.

“Holding yourself to such high standards can be unhealthy, leading to feelings of stress and depression if you fail to meet these targets,” Rasmi said.

Businesses also have a crucial role to play in mental wellbeing, with Maher Elhassan, vice president and general manager at BD MENA & Saudi Arabia, a medical technology company, called on companies to support their staff throughout the lockdown phase.

“Businesses need to connect with their employees as much as possible. They need to show compassion because this is a difficult moment and we shouldn’t assume employees have time for everything just because they are working from home; we need to recognize their hard work and avoid falling into the trap of overloading them,” he said, reported WAM.

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