Focusing on your mental health in a pandemic

−Tips to coping

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mental Health Director at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Util Richmond-Thomas, today highlighted how persons can deal with the challenges that may arise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the ministry’s daily update Dr. Richmond-Thomas noted that the pandemic has forced persons to make changes that are in the best interest of the health and well-being of our family and friends.

Those changes include staying home and only coming out for work or essential items, wearing a face mask when not at home and sanitising and washing hands more frequently.

The Mental Health Director noted that with these changes, persons are finding it difficult to adjust.

“The stress associated with this period is manifesting in different ways for some of us; lack of sleep, constant fear, anger, confusion, frustration, anxiety and depression are what we face daily,” she explained.

Dr. Richmond-Thomas outlined tips to cope with all these challenges

    • Set aside time for yourself every day when you neglect your personal time everything else suffers.
    • Stay connected with family, friends, workmates and whatever clubs, organisations or social groups you may belong to. Fulfilment of basic social needs such as love, belonging and connectedness, brings a feeling of security and contentment which is very important in preventing depression.
    • Ensure that you are talking to someone you trust about your problems, your thoughts and your feelings. Even if that person cannot solve the problem, just talking sometimes is enough.
    • Ensure that you know what help is available in your local community, and in the country at large. Help may be available through religious groups, non-governmental organizations, the health care facilities where health care workers are found, ministries and other government departments, clubs, etc.
    • Find your strengths and embrace it, that ability to overcome, the ability to endure, the ability to see beyond the moment.
    • In your day to day routine, prioritise and focus on those tasks that can be easily completed to reduce the size of the to-do list.

Additionally, Dr. Richmond-Thomas advised that persons at home can use this opportunity to restart hobbies or discover a new one.

It was also emphasised that daily exercise and adequate amount of sleep help to ease stress. Persons on medication, managing pre-existing conditions are encouraged to stick to their regimen as prescribed by their doctor.

More importantly, Dr. Richmond-Thomas discouraged the use of alcohol and other substances such as marijuana and cocaine.

“This only adds to the problems by worsening behaviour and adding to issues of misuse and can also affect your immune system making it easier for you to become infected with the coronavirus.”

Finally, it was advised that persons must stay positive and this will go a long way to protecting their emotional wellbeing.

“Your problems are going to feel much more manageable, and you will feel much more hopeful and confident about getting through this pandemic,” Dr. Richmond-Thomas advised.

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.