The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that coronavirus pandemic and the restrictive measures for containing the outbreak may have a negative impact on mental health and well being.
Director of the European branch of WHO, Hans Kluge said that isolation, social distancing, closure of institutes and workplaces are the challenges that affect us in many ways and it is natural to feel anxiety, stress, fear, and loneliness at this time of global crisis.
With the increasing number of cases and increasing stress on the isolation or self-quarantine, experts said it is important to consider the negative impact of this pandemic on people’s mental health while providing psychological care for the general public.
Kluge said that it is important to address the mental health of the general public during the coming weeks. He added that this outbreak is not going to be a sprint but it will be a marathon, urging nations to prepare medical services for the mental well being of their people.
A behavioral psychologist Virgine De Vos said this crisis may generate symptoms of anxiety, depression or lack of participation in the coming weeks. She believes that the major factor contributing to mental illness can be the lack of diagnosis and the shortage of testing.
The majority of people who have some symptoms can’t be tested so they don’t know whether they are infected or not. This uncertainty may have a negative effect on people’s mental health.
The European Federation of Psychologists Association believes that online consultations via video chat can be a feasible alternative to provide psychological support and therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mental health expert from WHO, Aiysha Malik said that mental health should be considered as a part of public health response to this pandemic. Children and healthcare workers are among the psychologically most-affected groups by this crisis.
Medical professionals are also a high-risk group besides facing the clinical pressure everything. One in 10 registered cases of COVID-19 in Europe is from this group.
Dozens of organizations in Europe representing healthcare professionals urge nations for ensuring adequate working conditions. They said that medical staff must have breaks between their shifts, to be able for carrying on in what might be a long term global crisis. Working in such conditions affects the psychological health of medical staff so proper support services should be provided.
The WHO recommends rotating working shifts in the most stressful positions, increasing communication between teams, having a psychosocial work team in hospitals and must ensure that frontline professionals have extensive experience.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of institutes can also have a negative impact on the mental health of children as they may no longer have the sense of stimulation and structure which is provided by that environment.
Children are likely to experiencing fear, anxiety, and worry including the hopes that are very similar to the hopes and fears adult is experiencing; fear of death, fear of the relatives dying and fear of not receiving medical treatments.
According to De Vos, the parent’s attitude is fundamental during the crisis. If parents will be anxious about their children, this will add stress and have a negative effect on their children’s behavior.
The WHO announced that they are preparing a set of guidelines on this for addressing mental health and well being of children aged four to 10 and it will be released soon.
Malik stressed that we should not stigmatize recovered people and should not attribute the novel coronavirus to the concrete ethnicity of geography. Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic requires a collective effort.