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    “We don’t have a vaccine for our mental health as we do for our physical health.” These are the words of Lisa Carlson, former president of the American Public Health Association, in recent statements. She expressed her concern about the worsening 2021 impact of the Pandemic on mental health.

    With her coincide two specialists in Costa Rica consulted in the framework of the World Day to Combat Depression, which was commemorated this past January 13th. They are Marta Vindas, National Coordinator of the Psychology Program of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), and Ana Shapiro, a specialist in Psychiatry of the Child Psychiatry Service of the Calderón Guardia Hospital.

    More cases attended in the country

    The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of diseases or illnesses. “It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by said disorders.”

    Vindas explained that the CCSS has registered an increase in cases of people with some degree of impairment in their mental health. Between 2019 and 2020, there was an increase of 23%. Shapiro also confirmed an increase in consultations for cases related to depression, anxiety, stress, irritability, spontaneous crying, and even loss of sleep or appetite, which have been aggravated by the Pandemic.

    Impact on a different scale

    This last specialist indicated that these consequences arose in light of important imbalances in family dynamics: students who stopped going to their educational centers, parents who now work from home, or, in the unwanted scenario, who lost their jobs. Also, individuals who stopped seeing their friends or family or who cut off an exercise routine.

    Many people do not have trusted conversation spaces that allow them to talk about how they feel and how to face a reality that continues in 2021. Others, on the other hand, simply do not talk about what is happening to them and try to keep others from noticing. And if they do, they evade assuming their reality. But … watch out! The warning signs that children give are not usually the same as those of adults.

    Know how to identify mental health problems in children

    Shapiro suggests paying more attention to changes in the behavior of the smallest members in the household. For her part, Vindas of the CCSS, remembers to be cautious in the case of changes in the behavior of adults, whose mental health has also been impacted by the Pandemic. And it’s not just about red flags that we can identify in others. It is also about making ourselves aware in case we are going through with one or more alterations.

    Vindas said that the CCSS has professionals trained in psychology, psychiatry, nursing, and social work to help those who feel their mental health has been affected by the Pandemic. She also recommended that these people find safe spaces to walk, relax, have a drink, read a book or looks for a close friend and talk, of course with the recommended sanitary measures.

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