For an organism that can only be seen under a microscope, the coronavirus has caused havoc and unease amongst Malawians. People have been bound to their homes and others to smaller spaces as we are encouraged to keep social distance to avoid rapid spread of the virus. Businesses have been closed and jobs have been lost, making young people hopeless. The pandemic has significantly disrupted the education, socialization, and mental health of adolescents and youth.
As people think of ways to survive amidst the pandemic, thoughts and stress overcome their minds. The first wave of the novel coronavirus saw a rise in the number of suicide cases across the world and this second wave has greater effects on the economy and its people. In a country where there are limited opportunities for young people, drug and alcohol abuse becomes an option. In Malawi, the mental health situation is worsening by the day. The high stigmatization levels add on to the frustrations of individuals. Furthermore, there are no psychologists in public health hospitals and mental health appears to be an afterthought in our hospitals.
Facing the future with hope means making huge strides in creating a global youth village where young people fulfil their potential. For this to happen, it is important to encourage one another to speak out , raise awareness, create safe spaces for peer to peer support and building capacity of young people as first aiders for prevention and referral services. This is the game changer in avoiding the worst case scenario, suicide.