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Stress, anxiety and burnout take a toll on medical workers in Kerala

 In the time of Covid-19, medical workers are being treated as celebrities.

Published: 21st May 2020 06:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st May 2020 06:48 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the time of Covid-19, medical workers are being treated as celebrities. Through various media they are being praised for their grit, dedication and sacrifice in containing the pandemic. But inside, these medical workers are fighting a range of psychological problems. Here in the state, medical workers - from Asha workers to doctors - who are engaged in an all-out battle against the virus, are said to be suffering from stress, anxiety and sometimes depression.

Citing a range of studies at the international and national level, medical experts and mental health experts in the state are demanding a comprehensive stress prevention and relief strategy.“These are tough times and adequate mental support will have to be provided to the frontline warriors also. As per an initial assessment, the most important problems are stress and anxiety. Some also have severe stress and depression. But a dedicated team is there to hear them and address their issues,” said Dr P S Kiran, state nodal officer, Mental Health Programme.

According to him, the stress is mainly out of workload and in the case of frontline workers anxiety is the prevailing issue.“The frontline workers who are directly dealing with people under surveillance are afraid that they might contract the virus. The same is the case with doctors attending OP. Some also share conveyance issues. But a meticulous plan is there to address the issues as the department is contacting those working in the field- from Asha workers to doctors- on a daily basis,” added Kiran.

Said Dr Anilkumar T V, professor, Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram: “The key is to practice psychological first aid (PFA).” It is a method to help people in distress so they feel calm and supported to cope better with their challenges. He further added, “PFA should not to be limited to those who are asked to undergo quarantine. It should also be extended to health workers and social welfare responders providing care and treatment to patients.”

According to Anilkumar, the ABC of self-care should have to be trickled down to the grass-roots level. This includes awareness and normalisation of one’s own responses to stress, a balance between life and the demands of work and connection with people and social support, and to one’s own values.

 At the same time, KGMOA state general secretary, Dr G S Vijayakrishnan said that a comprehensive stress prevention and relief strategy will have to be rolled out for boosting the morale of medical workers.   “The prevalence of burnout is there among medical workers. In the state, some health workers contracted the virus. This will have a psychological effect on the workforce also. Thus a strategy is needed to instil confidence among them,” said Vijayakrishnan. Earlier, the World Health Organization had come out with a report about the pandemic’s impact on mental health, highlighting healthcare workers as the most vulnerable.


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