Coup, COVID harms youth health in Myanmar | Coronavirus News Plague

Van Thawng Thawng’s phone rang as several alerts illuminated the screen.

“Did anyone speak to Ezekiel?” someone was asking for the Chin Student Union Facebook, an organization representing students from southwestern Chin Myanmar. But no one has heard from the 20-year-old union leader.

One week later, on April 14, a friend called Van Thawng Thawng to tell him that Ezekiel’s body had been found.

He is believed to have been beaten to death by security forces. Van Thawng Thawng was disappointed.

“I feel pressure and frustration, especially in the war. Because it is not just Ezekiel, “said Van Thawng Thawng, a former student of Chin who is the secretary general of the same alliance.” a few months ago. “

When Van Thawng Thawng’s mother died of chronic cancer, it is believed that her uncles and grandparents both had COVID-19 after giving their symptoms but in a few tests did not know.

“Everyone is dying and everyone is feeling down. It is difficult to comfort people and make them feel good. ”

Throughout Myanmar, young people described the outrage, grief and helplessness of the February 1 coup and the brutal repression of anti-government protests. They say these ideas have been on the rise since July when the COVID-19 cases erupted in the country.

Today, many grieve over the death of a loved one because of illness and violence.

However, forced to deal with recent risks such as primary care and access to treatment, health care has taken a back seat. But experts say the amount of stress is becoming unbearable as the amount of depression and suicide rises.

‘They have no hope and they have nothing to do’

Myanmar’s mental illness has long been a thing of the past, frustration and anxiety are believed to be weak symptoms that need to be treated in secret. But with dementia on the rise, counselors are concerned about what could happen if mental health continued to decline.

People holding candles while participating in protest marches at night at the Hledan intersection in Yangon, Myanmar, March 14, 2021 [File: Stringer/Reuters]
The protester is protesting against the overthrow of Yangon, Myanmar, on February 19, 2021 [File: Stringer/Reuters]

Cherry Soe Myint is an independent counselor in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, working in partnership with the Applied Mental Health Research Group at Johns Hopkins University. After losing his father and aunt recently, he saw for himself how the coup, and now COVID-19, has affected Myanmar.

Recognizing the dangers of these problems, she has been offering free counseling to those who cannot afford to pay for specialists.

“When I talk to my clients, I see their suicide rate because they have no hope and have nothing to do. “They think they have no future, that they can’t deal with these problems, so they are thinking of killing themselves,” said Cherry Soe Myint.

“A young woman, her aunt and grandmother died at the end of July and they think she has died because she did not do enough to save them. He hung himself. And the incidence of this type is increasing – the risk of suicide increases. ”

He added that since the government’s treaty, seven out of 10 patients they treat have reported suicide, while, prior to, there have been two or three cases every three months.

Last week, in an online distribution, five teenagers, four men and one woman jumped out of a house in Yangon to escape the terrorists. It was later confirmed that two of the five had died.

For many people in Myanmar, the fear of the military because of their experiences or feelings under the former military regime that ruled the country for nearly 60 years until 2010. Even for today’s Z generation that grew up democratically in Myanmar, the fear of war for years with the same forces approaching and has brought many health problems.

“Our grandparents have already fought this and have spent many years in prison or death. If this is not the case, will it be the same for us for many years of military rule? ”Asked Phyu Pannu Khin, a member of Myanmar’s foreign ministry in the United States and a PhD in psychology who has been providing online medical care to Myanmar people since the government took action.

“There is tension between generations and a loss of future and hope. About ours [younger] generation, we have had less freedom under the common people – we have tasted freedom and dreamed dreams, so it is very sad now that everything has been taken away. “

COVID-19 and deficiency

The return to war is not the cause of anxiety and anxiety in the country.

When Myanmar was able to protect COVID-19 in the first year of the epidemic, charges began to rise in July as the third wave began. So far, 14,499 deaths related to COVID-19 have been recorded but the actual number is believed to be too high.

With the economic downturn, hospitals closed and the army stockpiling medicine and supplies, the lack of assistance has created a crisis for survivors as people struggle to rescue their loved ones who are injured or sick.

“With COVID-19 people are asking for air and medical care but are not receiving these basic necessities. We see our brothers dying in front of us and many people are feeling guilty and guilty, “said Cherry Soe Myint.

“Although I am a psychiatrist and I know how to deal with it, I also feel guilty for survivors, but I try to change my mind. Why should I live? Why did my father die? He did not do this for me but for the state of affairs in the country. ”

Volunteers pray in front of the bodies of people who died of COVID-19, at their funeral in Mandalay, Myanmar, July 14, 2021 [File: Stringer/Reuters]
Locals line up with their tanks for fresh air during the COVID-19 explosion in Yangon, Myanmar, July 14, 2021 [File: Stringer/Reuter]

Cherry Soe Myint, along with other health professionals, has been trying to create such an attitude among their patients through interventions, but said there is little that can be done between security risks, unreliable internet, and COVID-19 restrictions.

While the grief of violence with COVID-19 is felt by all, the experiences in different groups are different.

For young women, the fear of being stopped by the military and sent to prison is worrying, especially because of the growing number of reports of sexual violence, especially for women of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

“I am afraid of what the military will do to me. I think about this when I spend time with the military, especially in security, “said Thet, a young and ethnic activist in Yangon, with tears in his eyes.

“During the day when I’m busy I don’t feel like that, but I keep quiet, especially at night, when things are going my way. I have a deep sleep now. I only sleep for three hours at a time before I wake up. ”

Thet is not alone. With the temporary burglary of the evening and the darkness of the internet, the fall in the evening has become a very dangerous daylight for many people in Myanmar, with many suffering from anxiety and insomnia.

While one understanding has come as a result of these and other traumas, others have seen great openness in dialogue and are very helpful to those who need help. The share of television and webinar training and support sessions has grown over the past six months, allowing those in need.

However, for many, especially as Van Thawng Thawng is a rural and ethnic group, the attitudes to health care continue to hinder those with dementia from getting help.

“If we had psychological support in Chin State, it would have been very good, but across the country, the people of Myanmar, even here, have not used the opening and going of aid like in the West,” explained Van Thawng Thawng.

“Things are going well when more people are volunteering to deal with depression. But people still do not know it, they are not used to it. It will take time. ”

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