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Spread Facts and not Fears
I attended a WHO webinar yesterday on preparedness on mental health aspects of coronavirus. The virus so far has infected over 80000 people from 41 countries, with 503 new cases and 12 deaths outside China. The expected total deaths are 4095 world over.
When mobile phones entered the world, it ended up giving rise to a society engrossed in social media and a term called ringxiety, a situation where people used to have anxiety after missing the ring tones for some time.
Now, all over the world, coronavirus is causing a condition, I call Coranxiety, which defines anxiety related to coronavirus.
It is common in epidemics for individuals to feel stressed and worried. The common responses may include -
- Fear of falling ill and dying
- Avoiding or not approaching healthcare facilities due to fear of becoming infected during care
- Fear of losing livelihood
- Fear of not being able to work during isolation
- Fear of being dismissed from work if found positive
- Fear of being socially excluded
- Fear of being put into quarantine
- Fear of being separated from loved ones and caregivers due to quarantine
- Refusal to take care of unaccompanied or separated minors
- Refusal to take care of people with disabilities or elderly because of their high-risk nature
- Feeling of helplessness
- Feeling of boredom
- Feeling of depression due to being isolated
- Stigmatization of being positive infection
- Possible anger and aggression against government
- Unnecessary approaching the courts
- Possible mistrust on information provided by government
- Relapses of mental illness in already mentally-ill patients
- Increased stress on people to cover work of infected colleagues, quarantined for 14 days.
- Insufficient or incomplete information
We need to -
- Create multiple coronavirus helplines
- Train mental health counselors
- Communicate only credible information based on facts and not fear or myths.
Dr KK Aggarwal
President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA