Mental Health in the wake of Covid19

The increase in community transmissions of Covid19 in Zimbabwe is causing concern in the population’s mental health. Psychological and social problems continue to rise and consequences such as stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, uncertainty and domestic violence are an increasing progression. It is therefore of utmost importance for the people of Zimbabwe to take care of their mental health.

Healthcare workers:
• You are likely to feel afraid, overwhelmed and experience lots of stress as the outbreak continues, it is important to acknowledge these feelings and notice when you are not coping.
• Remember to take care of yourself by wearing your PPE correctly and following protocol especially when you are done and are removing the PPE.
• Take care of your mental health, take breaks, rest, eat well, have sufficient sleep and engage in a physical activity.
• Maintain a strong social support system, stay connected to your loved ones. Unfortunately, you might experience stigma and avoidance from those close to you, remember that everyone is afraid and try not to take it personally.
• Organise social interaction with colleagues who understand what you might be going through.
• Your work load might increase try to manage your tasks.
• As you watch your patients die, you might feel inadequate, these feelings are normal given the circumstances- try to focus on things that are within your control and remember the great work you are doing.
People in quarantine, self-isolation:
• Plan for the things that you will need during the isolation period as soon as you know that you will be going into isolation.
• Find people you trust to help you with errands.
• Take care of your health, eat well, rest and sleep well.
• Take care of your mental health- talk about your worries, maintain a schedule, do things that give you a sense of achievement, stay connected, choose pleasurable activities and exercise.
• Practice deep breathing, maintain quiet times, meditate, pray.
• Seek help from your doctor if you are experiencing physical symptoms.
• Use recommended remedies from reliable sources.
• Avoid too much social media,
• Limit the time you spend looking for new information
• Use positive affirmations to stay positive.
• Remember the statistics, mortality rate is low and if you take good care of yourself you will heal faster.

General population:
• Let’s be kind to one another to reduce stigma. When referring to people who are suffering from Covid19, let’s avoid linking the disease to the person. “Vaye ve Covid”.
• Remember sometimes a person who gets infected by Covid19 has not done anything wrong, some might not know where and how they got it. None of us is exempted, we are in this together.
• Avoid referring to people as cases, victims etc, people who are being treated for Covid19 are still people not cases. Choose kind words.
• Take care of your own mental health.
• Choose to watch and listen to positive news.
• Get your information from reliable sources.
• Avoid discussions that will cause anxiety, stress and fear.
• Watch what you are using as coping strategies, avoid drinking alcohol and using substances.
• Stay productive, keep a regular schedule, do your work/school
• Stay connected, maintain a strong social support system.
• Remember the things that make you smile and do them.
• Take care of the elderly and those with special needs e.g. children, people living with disability and other chronic conditions.
• Notice your emotions- prolonged sadness can result in depression, anger can lead to aggression, uncontrolled worry will contribute to anxiety.
• Watch your anger to avoid violence.
• Observe the guidelines, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands thoroughly with soap, wear your mask and sanitise your hands.

1. When referring to people with COVID-19, do not link the disease to any particular ethnicity or nationality. People who are infected by COVID-19 have not done anything wrong, and they deserve our support, compassion, and kindness.

2. Do not refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or “the diseased”. They are “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”, and after recovering from COVID-19 their lives will go on with their jobs, families and loved ones. It is important to separate a person from having an identity defined by COVID-19 to reduce stigma.

3. Minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources such as your local health authorities, national institutions coordinating the outbreak, Africa CDC and WHO website so that you can take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day, only once or twice. Get the facts, not rumours or misinformation by using the above trusted sources. Accurate information from trusted sources can help to minimize fears.

4. Protect yourself and be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit both the person receiving support and the helper. For example, check by telephone on neighbours or people in your community who may need some extra assistance. SOURCE: Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC).

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