The guidelines by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) said the management and treatment of severe mental disorders should not be interrupted as far as possible and emergency care services must remain functional and be bolstered to handle additional influx of patients anticipated during the situation.
The document also advised that online training programmes in tele-psychiatry for the mental health professionals across the country need to be conducted, keeping in mind the framework that professional bodies may have laid down.
The NIMHANS said that considering the “mammoth nature” of the pandemic and available meagre resources, there is an immediate need to address a mental health gap in trained personnel who will be able to make simple mental health assessments. Advertisement
The guidelines cover different sections of people.
For mental health assessment of COVID-19 patient in healthcare and community settings, the guidelines said psychological issues following the pandemic are likely to be common.
“Most affected will require only brief assessments and immediate support. This will require all front-line personnel to be competent in simple psychological assessment of the affected in the community and treatment settings of COVID-19,” it said.
For mental health issues of those in home quarantine, the document said isolation and social distancing in the times of a raging pandemic can be psychologically distressing for many people.
“However, there are simple and effective actions that you can take as a health care provider. Key among them is providing information. As a health care provider, you would be seen as a reliable and trustworthy source of information. Explain the rationale of quarantining and social distancing,” it said. “Promote reliable sources of information. Inform patients what symptoms to watch out for and what symptoms not to worry about. Encourage people to remain in touch with each other over virtual means. address stigma. Finally, if you come across anyone having significant distress have them referred to a mental health professional,” it said. Advertisement
On handling domestic violence, the guidelines said people in abusive relationships face challenges during lockdown and restrictions in movements (as in COVID-19) as they are likely to be in close confined spaces with the perpetrators and may have difficulties in accessing help.
“Frontline personnel need to be aware and if required explore sensitively and offer timely support to the victims,” it said.
For mental health issues in children and adolescents, the guidelines advise parents to keenly observe for any emotional or behavioral changes in their adolescent kids. Advertisement