As people in quarantine and isolation due to Covid-19 pandemic and the medical professionals fighting the outbreak are vulnerable to severe anxiety and stress, the state Mental Health Authority in Kerala has stepped up its psycho-social support programme.
According to a top official, so far over 1.81 lakh people, most of them in quarantine/isolation, were given reassurance calls as part of the programme.
The psychological issues to which these people are vulnerable include stress, anxiety, stigma, social needs and sleep impairment. About 74,463 follow up calls were made for those with these issues, said Dr Kiran. P.S, State Nodal Officer, Mental Health programme.
A psycho-social helpline has been launched for providing counselling and other psychological supports to healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses. This service will soon be extended to other government departments also.
The common mental traumas being faced by medical professionals, especially the frontline staff, are stress and anxiety. “Most of the healthcare employees engaged in COVID-19-related work are staying away from their families and some of them are in quarantine also. We call them through the helpline and provide counselling and assistance,” Dr Kiran said.
“Officials from various departments are also going through mental health issues like stress during the lockdown period. So we are extending this support to other departments as well,” Dr Kiran said.
“Due to devastating sweep of COVID-19 pandemic, a psychological intervention is necessary. Through the psycho social helpline across the state we also provide counselling and psychological support to special children, guest labourers and elderly people living alone,” he said.
“Psycho Social Support Teams were constituted in all districts, under District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) on February 4. Psychiatrists, psychiatric social workers, clinical psychologists,social workers and counsellors are working under DMHP,” he pointed out.
“Our staff contact all persons in quarantine/isolation and they have been provided with a district helpline number to call back in case of any psychological needs, which will be addressed at the earliest and follow up calls are given every threeto five days,” Dr Kiran said.
As of now,1,058 personnel are working in the state to provide psychosocial support.