Mental Health and Coping during COVID-19
Mental Health and Coping during COVID-196/4/2020
The deterioration of mental health results in the deterioration of human immunity. Therefore, meeting the psychological needs of members of society during epidemic disasters and various crises posts a significant requirement in the area of humanitarian assistance to overcome these crises.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate in most parts of the world, ensuring mental health and wellbeing of individuals and communities is at top priorities.
In the Sultanate and as part of efforts made in fighting COVID-19 , al Masarra hospital has recently initiated community psychological support during COVID-19 pandemic, as hospital’s director general Dr. Bader Al Habsi pointed out . The initiative consists of two lines; community awareness, and psychological support. Community awareness is carried out through hospital social media accounts where inquiries are being answered and many tips and guidelines to deal psychologically with the circumstances of the pandemic are being posted, in addition to uploading plenty of awareness videos and articles in various e- magazines.
As for the psychological support line, it is a call line that answers all questions related to psychological stress and provides specialized assistance while maintaining the confidentiality of information.
On the COVID-19 psychological impact on human, Dr. Muna Al Shukaili, pediatric and adolescent consultant psychiatrist, pointed out that it may occur in the form of mixed feelings of fear (may be from a disease or a close relative). social isolation or physical distance (which is one of the most important precautionary measures to avoid disease transmission, may generate psychological pressure on people, because human beings are by nature social person who likes to communicate with each other and physical contact is one way of human communication (such as hands shaking and hugging children and others).
Furthermore, fear from the unknown and insecurity may have a great impact on the psyche of people generating a feeling of loneliness or a sense of helplessness (the person was unable to change something about him); nonetheless, we need to realize that following social isolation in this temporary period is a necessity in order to protect ourselves and those around us, Dr. Al Sukaili added.
Faisal Al-Hanshi, senior nurse at Al-Masrra Hospital, psychiatric disorders always accompanies infectious epidemics that may develop in some people into health disorders, starting with mixed feelings such as fear, anxiety and mood swings, or sleep disorders. Symptoms may occur usually in the period of the pandemic and without affecting the performance of the individual social and functional. However, if these symptoms develop and hinder the individual from enjoying his day or carrying out his tasks, therapeutic intervention may be needed. Such disorders are identified as severe depression, anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Doa al-Lawati, a social specialist, explained that drawing on personal knowledge is good if taken from reliable sources, but medical opinion is indispensable in this situation. Inappropriate ways of adjusting to the ongoing developments may yield negative results, especially when home isolation being a new thing that has not been experienced before. She added that one way to reduce the psychological effects of isolation in a family environment is to organize range of activities representing in family cohesion and practicing joint activities.
There are different ways a person can follow to mitigate the psychological effects that can occur, such as talking to people you trust to relieve anxiety and fear, following a healthy lifestyle such as eating healthy meals, exercising, getting enough sleep and communicating with your loved ones and friends through social media. In addition, quitting smoking is one of the most important advice sought by doctors during the Corona pandemic along with trying to reduce the time spent on watching the news in order to overcome anxiety and gather information from reliable sources to feel reassured, as well as to keep practicing hobbies or explore new activities.
On dealing with the hospital’s inpatients, they are currently divided into two groups. The first group are in-patients who have been admitted for a long time even before the onset of the pandemic, in which they are treated with taking all the usual preventive precautions for both the patient and the care provider such as hand washing before and after dealing with any patient to ensure that the infection is not transmitted from one patient to another or from a patient to the healthcare provider or vice versa.
investigations are undertaken in the second group, such as if the patient is returning from travel, and if he has been in contact with a patients with COVID-19 disease, as well making examinations if the patient has any symptoms of the disease. If all that turned out negative, the patient will be admitted in the specialized department according to his psychological condition, but if any of the above mentioned examinations were positive, the patient is treated according to the procedures and precautions to be followed with the patients of COVID-19. Two wards in the hospital are allocated for COVID-19 patient admission.
Meanwhile, the outpatient clinics were temporary suspended in line with the Supreme Committee’s decisions except for emergencies. Drug dispensing are allowed in patient’s regular appointments, while monthly medications are received from the pharmacy. To avoid spending longer waiting time, clients can call before coming to prepare routine medications in advance.