Guyana may be facing a tougher battle in its fight against mental illness with the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. That is the warning of the Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony.
Speaking at a virtual training session for frontline workers, the Health Minister focused on mental health awareness during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said issues related to mental health have been ignored in Guyana for too long and the pandemic is currently throwing new light on the issues.
“The current pandemic has now exacerbated these problems. The threat of infection, repeated lockdowns, curfews, social isolation, and economic uncertainty have created widespread fear and anxiety. Many studies have shown the adverse psychological effects of enforced institutional quarantines and isolation.” Mr Anthony said.
Dr. Anthony said persons are even finding it more difficult to talk about mental health issues during this time.
“Many people who previously thought they were resilient, had challenges coping with stress. Those with pre-existing mental health conditions have often found their difficulties exacerbated. According to a WHO survey, people with pre-existing severe and enduring mental health conditions have been most affected by COVID-19-related disruptions of mental health-care systems. Other vulnerable groups include children and adolescents, many of whom have been impacted by school closures, stretched health systems, restricted access to nutritious food, breakdown in family relationships, neglect, and abuse.” Anthony added.
The virtual training programme for health care workers has been organised by the Mental Health and Psychosocial Unit of the Ministry of Health.
It is aimed at equipping frontline workers with the knowledge and tools needed to cope with stress on the job and how to also detect persons who may be facing mental stress issues of their own.