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COVID-19 pandemic in India: through psycho-social lens

Aparna Joshi ()
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Aparna Joshi: Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Journal of Social and Economic Development, 2021, vol. 23, issue 2, No 15, 414-437

Abstract: Abstract COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that simultaneously affected different countries and communities across the globe. The large-scale psychosocial impact of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, is an experiential reality for many, in India. Despite this impact, a closer look at India’s response to the pandemic shows that the two strands of health and relief measures, continue to occupy centre-stage. The psycho-social aspects of the pandemic unfortunately largely remain undocumented and unaddressed. Using experiences of iCALL, National national level psycho-social counseling counselling service and a field action project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the paper throws light on the much-neglected experiential psycho-social dimensions of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in India. It describes the stressors experienced by users who approached iCALL and the consequent impact; especially among those who belonged to the vulnerable sections of the society. The nature of stressors as well as the impact reported by iCALL users, clearly points out to a complex interplay among several factors at individual, interpersonal, community and structural levels. The paper then, critically looks at the merits and limitations of the mental health framework that predominated the mental health response during the pandemic with its bio-medical and individualistic undertones; and suggests an alternative framing using a ‘psycho-social’ paradigm that views distress as an interaction between the psychological and social worlds. The paper asserts reciprocal linkages between development and psycho-social distress; highlighting the need to consciously integrate mental health issues into the development response. In the end, it makes an appeal for an inter sectoral dialogue, integrated response and advocacy for investing in mental health and psycho-social infrastructure to effectively respond to the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Pandemic; Psychosocial; India (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s40847-020-00136-8

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