COVID-19 and your mental health

−What you can do to keep your mental health intact during this period

−Mental Health Unit Director advises

DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 3, 2020

With the emergence of the novel coronavirus here in Guyana and alarmingly growing numbers around the world, it is quite normal, natural and expected that anxiety rises, people get worried and emotional.

This is according to the Ministry of Public Health’s Mental Health Unit Director, Dr. Util Richmond-Thomas.


Dr. Util Richmond-Thomas, Director, Mental Health Unit, Ministry of Public Health

Dr. Richmond-Thomas noted that while everyone has been affected psychologically by the pandemic, to effectively win the battle against COVID-19, one must maintain a state of mental health which is sufficient to allow them the resilience to successfully come through to the end of this pandemic.

In this regard, she made recommendations in keeping with those of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that will help alleviate the stress and worry that comes with the presence of COVID-19.

WHO has outlined specific recommendations for the general public, the elderly, those with disabilities, healthcare workers and children.

Chief among these was that persons should ensure they have someone to talk to about their feelings and their thoughts. That someone can be a family member, friend, health care provider, mental health specialist or a religious leader.

“The psychological relief gained by doing so will be tremendous,” Dr. Richmond-Thomas said.

“It is also important to connect daily with those persons who are ‘in your corner’, those who support you, empower you and make you feel good about yourself.” She further explained.

Added to this, persons should maintain their social networks, while maintaining social and physical distancing. Technology has proven to be a major ‘make-up’ providing thousands to connect through various social media platforms and virtual communication.

Persons are also encouraged to keep occupied by rediscovering hobbies and doing things you love. Also, minimise psychological trauma by limiting the amount of COVID-19 news they expose themselves to.

Dr. Richmond-Thomas advised: “do not overload with the bad news. Each exposure to bad news inflicts psychological trauma and several episodes of trauma per day adds up and will be harmful.”

Exercise is also an important way to reduce stress as it can result in reduced tension and relaxation, deep breathing is also quite calming. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is also essential along with a balanced diet and drinking lots of water daily.

Persons who have tested positive for COVID-19, have undergone psychosocial support as a part of their recovery process. Their families also underwent the process.

It was recently highlighted by the Minister of Public Health Hon. Volda Lawrence that relatives, healthcare workers and those generally working frontline also require psychosocial support due to the mental toll caring for those with the virus as well as stigma and discrimination has on them.

Minister Lawrence called for an end to the unfair treatment and urged that everyone throws their support behind those working to save and protect lives.