How to Address Mental Health Amid COVID-19?By Miriam Bello | Tue, 08/04/2020 - 11:29
“Fear, worry and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats and at times when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown. So, it is normal and understandable that people are experiencing fear in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said WHO.
Recognizing that the pandemic is affecting both mental and physical health has become an issue to address within society and companies. The main fear may be contracting the virus, but after being at home for months, lockdowns have started to weigh people down.
The Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention has identified some common feelings or situations during infectious disease outbreaks:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job or the loss of support services you rely on
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and/or other substances
The UK Mental Health Foundation has enlisted a series of recommendations to take care of your mental health amid an ongoing lockdown.
- Avoiding speculation or assumption because it fuels anxiety
- Trying to stay in contact and connected to friends and family
- Keeping yourself active and well-nourished
- Talking to your children to also be a support for them
- If you have experienced a mental health problem in the past, try to anticipate distress
- Keeping yourself informed and educated about the outbreak but finding a balance
While these tips apply for many, there are groups that face a different reality, such as healthcare workers. In Mexico, associations like AMIIF have tried to address the subject and during an interview with MBN, Cristóbal Thompson, Executive Director of AMIIF, said that as part of AMIIF’s efforts, the association signed an agreement with a group of psychiatrists who wanted to support the medical community, as the crisis has also impacted mental health. “These specialists offered to donate their time to support fellow medical professionals and with the help of UNAM, we were able to create a platform to offer consultations,” said Thompson.
Moreover, companies like UCB and Novartis are actively making tools available for their employees to address their mental health. During an interview with Fernando Cruz, Country President of Novartis Mexico, he explained that the company has put “many digital tools for mental health at its associates’ disposal, as well as educational tools and training sessions that can help them adapt to the new normal that is coming and that we are living.”
Additionally, to respond to these mental health needs, Mexican institutions, such as the National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz, have launched an emergency phoneline for anyone struggling with mental health issues and several other phonelines to assist people during these changing times.