MENTAL Health experts have called on front-line health workers fighting COVID-19 in the Red Zones where patients with severe and critical symptoms are being managed, to seek mental health and psychosocial support to avoid accumulating or bottling up traumatic experiences they may be encountering in their line of duty.
By Patricia Mashiri
The calls comes at the back of increased deaths and hospitalisation of COVID-19 related incidences across the country over the past four weeks.
In an Interview, Tafadzwa Meki, Founder of Someone Always Listens Toyou (S.A.L.T Africa) said there was need to set up phsyco -social support or some mental wellness activity especially having been exposed to traumatic incidents for almost over a year now since COVID-19 began.
If you look at the medical fraternity that is the doctors, nurses, ambulance workers, those that do evacuations and funeral parlous these are frontline workers because they deal with patients and deceased bodies on a day to day basis.
“So you look at the psychological effect of dealing with death or illness on daily basis, you look at the deliverable outcomes of one being a doctor as a health service provider and you find that the result is supposed to be centred around healing, getting better or mitigating the patient and also possible discharge of the patient,” said Meki.
She added that, “Most of the cases we are seeing are resulting in deaths which is traumatic. It does in some way causes anxiety in frontline workers. The sense of hopeless because of what is happening around them.
“We may tend to notice some behaviour change in these frontline workers, sleeping disorders, anxiety, panic attacks and they may likely to suffer from post traumat- ic stress as a result of the experiences they went through."
Meanwhile, Dr Kudzakwashe Muchena, one of the country’s leading Psychologist said no one was immune to mental health issues and challenges.
“We live in a society where most people think that if you are in a medical profession you have a buffer that protects you from experiencing life the people experience it which is wrong. This pandemic has put them on a very difficult situation mental health wise. We could be sitting on a health time bomb if this situation is not managed well. Some of the frontline workers I met seems like they are not receiving the support they need they going on their business as if its usual.
“Mental health issues usually do not manifest themselves quickly they take long to exhibit and when they come out people will be surprised how they came out. Most frontline workers that I met rely on their families for support. We need to be very careful on how we deal and support them so that they will be able to face the next day. Psychologist come as a secondary support the family should come first. In cases where family support is required it should be there,” said Dr Muchena.
He added that these were difficult times and there was need to take care of the mental health of the frontline workers before the worst happens.
“This also equal to those who work in funeral homes the handling of so many dead bodies and communicating with the relatives of the deceased.”