No Health Without Mental Health

At a recent members’ webinar, the Small Business Association of Barbados invited retired psychiatrist, Dr. Ermine Belle, to provide insight on the topic of ‘Coping with Mental Health During COVID-19.’

While addressing attendees, the experienced psychologist posited that mental health had become a major concern in the COVID-19 environment, noting that in this new normal, defined by physical distancing, extensive periods of lockdown and rising economic uncertainty, many persons were experiencing heightened feelings of distress.


Additionally, Dr. Belle indicated that mental health problems arising from the pandemic, included an increased sense of worry, grief and loneliness which could lead to stress, anxiety and depression within the population. Persons most at risk of experiencing these mental health issues, according to Dr. Belle, were the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, persons who have lost their means of income and children who are out of school and uncertain of their next move due to their plans and dreams being disrupted.

Dr. Belle also highlighted a recent study conducted in India which showed that 66% of women reported being increasingly stressed as opposed to 34% men, due to several factors including having their children at home fulltime, issues with home-schooling and taking care of older family members. Mention was also made of escalating cases in domestic violence against women.

As a result, the mental health advocate stressed that mental health was very important and asserted that the entire society should be educated about mental health needs so that all persons would be better equipped to provide support for the at-risk groups mentioned. This would in turn help to lessen national suffering and would speed up the recovery and rebuilding of our communities. 

Lastly, Dr. Belle provided a list of suggested activities which could help persons cope with their mental health during the pandemic. This list included the following:

  1. Admitting to your fears
  2. Seeking support when needed
  3. Educating yourself and keeping abreast of what is true
  4. Maintaining structure and a routine in your daily life
  5. Maintaining discipline to complete your routine
  6. Helping others where possible
  7. Being patient 
  8. Learning new ways of doing things and dealing with situations
  9. Maintaining a good sleep schedule and getting ample rest
  10. Maintaining a good diet and exercising regularly &
  11. Getting the vaccine

Although Dr. Belle assured attendees that these suggestions would work in some instances, she insisted that persons who found that their negative thoughts became overpowering and compromised everything in their everyday life, should seek professional help immediately.