A social sciences board set up by the Health Ministry to address the sociological issues related to COVID-19 will work to look into the pandemic's impact on society. Professor Mustafa Necmi Ilhan, a member of the board, said they were developing “a barometer” to see how the public perceived the pandemic.
“We will seek answers to questions and try to develop solutions. Those questions include how society has been psychologically and socially affected over the course of this process. We will try to find out if people are afraid of the pandemic and have complied with the rules,” Ilhan said. Their study will also delve into the question of why some sections of the society show a tendency to follow the rules less, while others obey them more strictly. “This is a long-term study and you cannot expect the results to come as quickly as in the medical aspect of the outbreak,” he noted.
The barometer will measure the impact of the virus on individuals and find out what eventually drove them to wear, or indeed not wear, a mask.
“We will also see how the pandemic affected people’s mental health,” Ilhan told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday.
The Health Ministry set up its social sciences board about one month ago, gathering a number of experts from the fields of psychiatry, public health, religious sociology, economy, history and communications.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last month that psychological suffering would far outlast the coronavirus crisis.
"Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities," he said in a video message. The U.N. chief launched a policy brief urging governments, civil society and health authorities to address the mental health dimension of the crisis.
"Mental health services are an essential part of all government responses to COVID-19. They must be expanded and fully funded," Guterres said.
He said the pandemic was increasing psychological suffering, including grief at the loss of loved ones, shock at job losses, isolation and fear for the future. Health care workers, older people, adolescents, those with preexisting mental health conditions and those caught up in conflict, he added, were most at risk of additional mental stress from the crisis.