Mental Health Care for Covid Warriors

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Brencia Daphne

April 13,2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a significant mental health challenge across the world. The risk of contracting COVID-19, a disease with no specific treatment protocols and unpredictable results, has shaken the planet. With the virus spreading throughout the world, the country's healthcare systems are already overburdened. As the war drags on, frontline health care staff, as well as society as a whole, have become more vulnerable to mental stress. Concerns about the risk of infection to themselves and their families, the adequacy of protection, long work hours, being in quarantine or isolation, and being apart from their families can cause significant psychological distress in health professionals. Their mental health is not given enough attention; their stressors must be recognised and treated. The stress, pressure and thoughts can transform into more persistent illness, even leading to suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems among healthcare workers were well-known. Healthcare workers have been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, drug abuse, low life satisfaction, and suicide in several studies as opposed to the general public. In a country like India, where cases are on the rise, and the medical equipment, hygiene and facilities are poor, it can be a huge task for the workers to treat the Covid 19 patients. This can take a toll on their mental health by a big number. Only a few places, often in high-income countries, have structured and confidential mental health programmes for health staff. A philosophy of "presenteeism" and no "self-care" continues to drive health professionals. As a result, every method of mental health support that was built in India during COVID-19 will continue to be relevant and permanent in the future.

The nature of the job, which involves shifting gears, making fast decisions, and coping with exposure to suffering and death, may lead to feelings of helplessness, guilt, depression, and anxiety, particularly among frontline workers. The pandemic has intensified and highlighted these issues, especially in light of recent reports of an increase in suicides among healthcare workers. In India, many cases have been reported where the frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers were assaulted and troubled. From attacking several workers, stone-pelting them, misbehaving with them – while a pandemic is going on with the unfortunate and immature decisions and events undertaken by the Indian government – such as conducting social events like Kumbh Mela, can destroy the thoughts and healthcare of the frontline workers. This is because simply looking at thousands of people gathered together in a limited area with no masks or social distancing can produce anxiety, anger and stress in the minds of the people. But this is not it because the healthcare workers will be left to finish the task at the end; the life of such patients lay in their hands.

So, how do we improve and protect the mental health of these healthcare workers? Keeping critical healthcare services running during the COVID-19 epidemic requires the well-being and emotional resilience of healthcare staff. Anticipating the stressors and putting in place a support structure for health care staff is critical. Institutional support, as well as self-help programmes, are needed for this. For warriors who are subject to high levels of stress, a mental health assessment is needed. They should be encouraged to attend stress management and resilience-building workshops/webinars and practise the exercises recommended during such guided sessions. Online therapy or structured mental health care can be used in emergencies. If a healthcare worker becomes infected for some cause, it is critical to track and evaluate their mental health and safety, as well as their healthy reintegration with colleagues. Special strategies should be implemented to promote mental well-being in COVID-19-exposed health care workers, especially nurses and frontline workers who need special attention. Employers can also take the lead in promoting compassionate treatment in an environment free of stigma, bullying, and the threat of negative consequences.

Gathering resources, getting jobs, management of family, rent, and other facilities has been a difficult task since the lockdown extended. Everyone is dealing with crisis and stress differently but, everyone is equipped differently. So, people need some outlet and mental health will become a more important issue for every company and individual going forward. For the elderly and especially the healthcare workers, there is helplessness and loneliness and the kids nowadays are doing school on digital platforms instead of physical presence with friends and teachers. This could lead to a lot of stress, anxiety, depression and helplessness. Thus, it is very important to take care of food, water intake, physical movements, healthy conversations, and so much more. Exercise for 30 - 40 minutes, eat healthy food and not junk, packaged food and good sleep. All of this along, with therapy, is necessary at this difficult stage of life.