Providing the Relief for Public Mental Health and psychological Crisis during COVID-19 Pandemic in India through technological intervention by All India Institute of Medical Science, Rishikesh and afifa foundation
Tele-Consultation to address Public Mental Health and Psychological Crisis during COVID 19 Pandemic by afifa foundation and All India Institute of Medical Science Rishikesh
As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world, it is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions.
In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behavior are also expected to rise.
In populations already heavily affected, such as Lombardy in Italy, issues of service access and continuity for people with developing or existing mental health conditions are also now a major concern, along with the mental health and well-being of frontline workers.
As part of its public health response, All India Institute of Medical Science Rishikesh initiated with afifa foundation is an innovative approach to develop a set of digital mental health care on the mental health and psychosocial support aspects of COVID-19.
Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on children’s mental health
This is indeed an unprecedented time for all of us, especially for children who face an enormous disruption to their lives. Children are likely to be experiencing worry, anxiety and fear, and this can include the types of fears that are very similar to those experienced by adults, such as a fear of dying, a fear of their relatives dying, or a fear of what it means to receive medical treatment. If schools have closed as part of necessary measures, then children may no longer have that sense of structure and stimulation that is provided by that environment, and now they have less opportunity to be with their friends and get that social support that is essential for good mental well-being.
Being at home can place some children at increased risk of, or increased exposure to, child protection incidents or make them witness to interpersonal violence if their home is not a safe place. This is something that is very concerning.
Although all children are perceptive to change, young children may find the changes that have taken place difficult to understand, and both young and older children may express irritability and anger. Children may find that they want to be closer to their parents, make more demands on them, and, in turn, some parents or caregivers may be under undue pressure themselves.
Simple strategies that can address this can include giving young people the love and attention that they need to resolve their fears, and being honest with children, explaining what is happening in a way that they can understand, even if they are young. Children are very perceptive and will model how to respond from their carers. Parents also need to be supported in managing their own stressors so that they can be models for their children. Helping children to find ways to express themselves through creative activities, and providing structure in the day – if that is possible – through establishing routines, particularly if they are not going to school anymore, can be beneficial.
Mental health and psychosocial support services should be in place, and child protection services need to adapt to ensure that the care is still available for the children of families who need it.
Psychological impact of this disease on the elderly
Regarding older people and also those with underlying health conditions, having been identified as more vulnerable to COVID-19, and to be told that you are very vulnerable, can be extremely frightening and very fear-inducing. The psychological impacts for these populations can include anxiety and feeling stressed or angry. Its impacts can be particularly difficult for older people who may be experiencing cognitive decline or dementia. And some older people may already be socially isolated and experiencing loneliness which can worsen mental health.
On a positive note, there are many things that older people can initiate themselves or with the support of a carer, if needed, to protect their mental health at this time. These include many of the strategies that we are advocating across the entire population, such as undertaking physical activity, keeping to routines or creating new ones, and engaging in activities which give a sense of achievement. Maintaining social connections is also important. Some older people may be familiar with digital methods and others may need guidance in how to use them. Once again, the mental health and psychosocial support services and other services that are relevant to this population must remain available at this time.
What We do!
AIIMS Rishikesh and afifa foundation has been started tele-consultation. Through this tele-consultation best doctors of AIIMS Rishikesh consult the patients for their better health.