June 09, 2020
During this COVID-19 Global Pandemic, we women are facing many challenges. Mental wellbeing is one of these challenges. With this in mind, the OWSD Bangladesh National Chapter organized an online seminar on 'Mental Wellbeing During COVID-19' on 3 June, 2020.
The webinar was co-ordinated and conducted by the chapter's Chair, Dr Sharmin Parveen, on Zoom. The main speaker of the webinar was an eminent Psycho-Social Counselor Ms Mansuba Tabassum Haque. She is a former Faculty & Department Chair at the Child Development and Social Relation Department at the Bangladesh Home Econmics College, University of Dhaka. Currently she is the chair of Mansuba's Counseling Center and continuing her expertise privately as a Psycho-Social Counselor.
Around 22 participants joined the webinar including the Executive Committee and Advisory Members of the National Chapter, as well as the OWSD Executive Regional Member for Asia and the Pacific. Ms Mansuba Tabassum Haque discussed about various aspects of mental health challenges working women are facing during this lockdown situation. She described how each member of a family can help each other towards their mental wellbeing during lockdown situation. In fact, she pointed out a number of potential positive impacts of lockdown: as one of the practiced methods like ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy), we can train ourselves to appreciate all these positive sides of lockdown and hold mental strength during COVID-19.
Some positive impact of lockdown can be:
- managing households all together
- sharing feelings among family members
- exchanging ideas and improve understanding in conjugal life
- more time to pray, exercise and nurture your hobbies
- pay more attention to yourself and prioritize your choice/likings
- explore new recipes, paintings etc.
All these things can enable us to rescue our peace of mind. Once we can achieve that, we can imprint this happiness on our family members.
The speaker also noted that in our usual busy life, we seldom pay attention to our children’s preferences or notice any changes in their behaviour. Children with working parents have less space and time with their parents. So lockdown can be seen and utilized as the most suitable time for both parties to be more interactive and caring and it can bring back the flavor of family values to all family members. Some may even discover some hidden talents among themselves. These principles need not be limited to family life: if we can exchange and share our thoughts and views on COVID-19 with our colleagues, neighbours, relatives, we may help to ease tension of others and also they may rely and open up themselves and allow us to help them to fight crisis during the pandemic. Being kind to ourselves, our families, and our colleagues can bring a balance in maintaining personal and professional commitment during lockdown.
The seminar lasted for 2 hours, including a fruitful Q&A session. Attendees posed the following questions:
Q: How to prevent kids from screen addiction during the pandemic?
A: Ms Mansuba stressed on counseling kids in a positive way. For example, parents can avoid using negative words, and distract children from screens in positive ways: ask them to change their sitting place, keep them company, and encourage them to do more indoor physical games such as playing chess, karom, or dribbling. You can also consider keeping the wifi speed slow at certain times of day when you are not working, restricting certain TV channels, blocking certain adult websites/webpages, and keeping an eye on the type of games/websites they are using.
Q: How to handle everyday negative news on COVID-19?
A: It is normal to be upset or panicked when we continuously see the negative news on COVID-19. Fake news can create more panic and confusion, so select a few authentic news sites and listen to or read the news for not more than 2-3 hours in a day.
Q: Is mental wellbeing connected with the higher mortality rate of men?
A: It is likely that men are at more risk to COVID-19 because in male-dominated society they are more likely to need to leave the house for work.
At the end of the seminar, speaker thanked all the participants and expressed her gratitude to organizers. She hoped to collaborate with National Chapter in future. Chair Dr. Sharmin thanked the speaker for her valuable time and talk. She also thanked all the participants from different institutions who have managed time to participate in the session. She concluded with a hope that the dark time will over soon. We are now staying home with a hope that very soon we will walk in the fresh air with our dear ones.