By Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor
In any crisis or disaster, anxiety is a natural response to a situation where there is no ready solution. COVID-19 is upon us, and many countries have dealt with the physical issues and infrastructure as a first response, as this government has remarkably done in the last few weeks, addressing the economic and social stressors of the coronavirus in an attempt to mitigate the impact on human life. Social distancing and quarantine have been encouraged to reduce its spread.
However, what is often negligibly attended to, are the mental and emotional fallouts on the population that inevitably occur due to this enforced isolation. Mindwise’s director, Maria O’Brien has stated that completed suicides and suicide ideation are on the increase so that solutions must focus on increasing coping resources and suicide prevention strategies both for communities and families, especially for those who are at risk or are already victims of the COVID-19 disaster.
For some persons, their concerns have been catching the virus or spreading it; fear and anxiety; disruption to family life and the financial losses in the long term.
The crisis has not been helpful to those who rely on news from mainstream or social media which can exaggerate issues or spread false information, further adding to stress and anxiety.
Those most at risk during this pandemic are the persons who lack needed coping skills and those with a history of substance abuse, previous physical illness or elderly persons with health issues.
But what can a person do when confined to a space for an extended period of time, especially when there are outbursts of anger, irritability, excessive worrying and a loss of self-control?
It is not an easy task to implement coping mechanisms as many have been advised to do, such as social support systems, connecting with persons online, creating routines that would achieve a sense of normalcy or taking care of one’s physical health when there is so much uneasiness and uncertainty.
The Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists has noted an increase in persons seeking advice on how to cope with stress and anxiety and manage their mental well-being during this pandemic.
We deem it our responsibility to assist the society in maintaining a level of calm, and to help persons to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and others around them.
If you or someone you care about are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, anxiety or depression that are persistent and confusing, please call our members at the telephone numbers listed to talk to someone. Stay positive. Please follow TTAP on Facebook and on social media for current, factual alerts on COVID-19. Do what you can to help others. Hopefully, this too shall pass.
Dr Nakhid-Chatoor is a clinical and educational psychologist, and immediate past President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists (TTAP).
Our team of psychologists is available to help you to cope.
Raymond – 732-2702
Laura – 474-2737
Margaret – 342-1578
Greisy – 769-8094
Wendy – 787-0975
Sally – 730-7639
Michelle – 469-9983
Patricia – 386-2815
Deborah – 757-9348
Kareen – 731-2386
Jeff – 689-1243
Luscia – 784-6678
J’elle – 727-6723
Leslie-Ann – 754-0170
Arlene – 722-0188
Stacy – 718-4387
Dionne – 495-1750
SPANISH callers (llamadores espanoles)
Greisy – 769-8094