Psychological help on way for medics

A HOTLINE offering psychological support to frontline workers fighting the pandemic will soon be set up in Bahrain.

It is part of a framework introduced by the Health Ministry to offer psychological support for healthcare staff and community members.

Details of the initiative, spearheaded by the Public Health Directorate’s School of Health in co-operation with volunteers in the field of mental health, were announced yesterday.

School of Health head Dr Iman Ahmed Haji, who is also Primary Healthcare mental health services supervisor, said the initiative aims to reduce mental health pressures on frontline workers and volunteers.

“The pandemic has exposed many people to psychological pressure and tension, especially for frontline workers in the healthcare sector,” she said.

“This initiative, since March, aims primarily to help to reduce psychological pressures during crises, while working to provide psychological support to health workers and existing cases in isolation and treatment centres.

“It also aims to raise the level of citizen awareness on dealing with these conditions.

“Work is also underway to set up a hotline within the framework of this support programme.”

Dr Haji explained that the new hotline will offer remote psychological counselling for frontline and other healthcare workers, who are experiencing distress at work due to the current situation.


“This hotline will allow healthcare workers to communicate with psychological consultants when needed,” she said.

“The team is also organising special field campaigns for frontline workers to provide psychological support to them through relaxation exercises which help them de-stress from job issues, as well as providing psychological counselling remotely.”

She added that the team is also co-ordinating with various centres in Bahrain to provide psychological advice and treatment to existing Covid-19 patients and if needed cases will be transferred to the Psychiatric Hospital and Salmaniya Medical Complex.

“The psychological support for the members in the society includes the spread of awareness messages about mental health for different social groups, and instructions on how to deal with children in such circumstances,” she explained.

“They will also be advised on how to deal with panic attacks, and will also be given psychological training to receive cases and provide appropriate support.

“In the case of the existing Covid-19 patients, necessary support will be given in co-ordination with various centres in Bahrain and if needed cases are transferred to the Psychiatric Hospital and SMC.”

A study conducted in China showed that 71.5pc of frontline healthcare workers suffered from stress during the pandemic, while 50.4pc suffered from symptoms of depression, 44.6pc showed signs of anxiety and 34pc have insomnia.


Meanwhile, a senior health official has addressed the stigma of shame associated with Covid-19, linking it to a spread of the novel coronavirus in Bahrain.

National Task Force for Combating Coronavirus monitoring committee head Lieutenant Colonel Dr Manaf Al Qahtani said that bullying and ridiculing those infected with Covid-19 could lead to complications due to late reporting of cases.

In a series of posts on his social media accounts under the hashtag #ItsOkayToNotBeOkay, he said being tested positive for Covid-19 should not be considered as a disgrace.

“We must treat patients just how we would like people to deal with us,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dr Al Qahtani, who is also the infectious disease control consultant at the BDF Hospital.

“We must take precautionary and preventive measures to avoid infection, while not ignoring the casualty in the community.

“As mentioned before, coronavirus is an infectious disease which spreads rapidly and therefore we must fully comply with the instructions to prevent it.

“Perhaps the most prominent of these (reasons for the spread) is the stigma towards people with the coronavirus and treating the disease as a shame.

“Bullying and ridiculing those infected with the virus will make many to hide their infection until their condition worsens and this leads to them reporting late to the hospital.

“The coronavirus infection is not a disgrace.”

Bahrain has been recording an average of 450 cases a day since the start of June, while fatalities have been at an average of two a day since June 3.

The maximum number of new cases in one day was reported on June 26, with 724 cases, while the daily tally of deaths reached the highest of six on June 18.

The GDN reported last month that the Health Ministry said four deaths reported during a 24-hour spell were patients who did not report their symptoms when they first felt them.





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