Caring for your mental health in the time of COVID-19

by Anne Marxze D. Umil

MANILA – The spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) worldwide is definitely disturbing. In the Philippines, the government has placed the country in a state of calamity and the entire Luzon under an enchanced community quarantine. Stricter measures are in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

To feel worried or anxious over your supply of food or medicine or losing your job during the lockdown is expected.
To help Filipinos cope with the stress brought about by the current situation, the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) released a guide on coping and wellness in time of COVID-19.*

The World Health Organization (WHO)’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use also released as early as March 12 mental health considerations to support mental and psychosocial well-being of different groups in the time of pandemic.
“WHO and public health authorities around the world are acting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, this time of crisis is generating stress in the population,” the WHO said.

‘Focus on what is in your control’

“Focus on what is under your control rather than what you cannot control,” PAP said.

The PAP also recommended lessening your consumption of news and social media which can cause increased distress and anxiety.

“Limit your exposure to news and social media to only specific hours of the day,” the PAP said.

The WHO advises everyone to only seek information only from trusted sources.

“The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts; not the rumors and misinformation. Gather information at regular intervals, from WHO website and local health authorities platforms, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors. Facts can help to minimize fears,” the WHO said.

The PAP also recommends staying connected with loved ones and valued social groups even in the midst of social distancing by using the available technology.

WHO also recommends “finding opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories and positive images of local people who have experienced COVID-19.”

“For example, stories of people who have recovered or who have supported a loved one and are willing to share their experience.” the WHO said.

Both have also stressed the need to stay healthy in this time of the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also published in its website ways to manage anxiety and stress in the time of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, if you find it difficult to cope, the PAP recommends reaching out to a family member or to a friend or seek additional support from mental health/counseling services.

In case you needed someone to talk your stress out, the DOH has a hotline: National Center for Mental Health 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 989-USAP (8727). (Bulatlat.com)

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