Unless there is some form of respite from the devastating impact of COVID-19 soon, more people will face mental health challenges, noted Dr Beverly Scott, a respected family therapist based in the western Jamaica.
With the third wave of the virus plunging the country into its worst phase yet, many are struggling to cope. And after being suffocated for over a year, many people are now overwhelmed by COVID-related fatigue – depression, loneliness, lack of motivation, exhaustion and isolation.
Now the country has been placed under a seven-day lockdown to try to control the spread of a virus that has so far infected more than 60,000 Jamaicans and killed more than 1,300, which experts say has failed. will only exacerbate the mental health crisis.
âFor those who have to go out every day and make a living from jostling or whatever, the lockdown is going to be devastating for them. If you are locked up on Monday and Tuesday, the first two days of the work week, that alone will cause anxiety and panic in human beings, not just families, âScott said.
Urging families to create their own internal support structure to help them cope, she added, âAll families have members who are stronger than others. I believe that the strongest people need to reunite the family and see how they can best discuss how to get through the crisis. ”
In recent weeks, there has been an explosion in deaths and infections from COVID-19 in the west, to include up to 39 people who have died in Westmoreland in just eight days. With each new day bringing more disheartening numbers, it looks like the region’s medical infrastructure is on the verge of collapsing.
Earlier this week, nurses at Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland gave in to the pressure of long hours of continuous work without interruption. It took the encouragement of Eric Clarke, chairman of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), to convince them to persevere as the powers that be sought to find ways to remedy their plight.
âYou talk about working 16 hours a day. They can’t even find time to stop for lunch, âsaid Clarke, describing the dire situation facing the nurses, one of whom said she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. .
With more uncertainty to come since news surfaced that Jamaica has recorded 22 cases of the highly contagious Delta strain of the coronavirus, Scott fears the added worry could lead to further mental problems.
âWith the Delta variant of COVID-19 that has been announced, people are getting uncertain and they don’t know what’s going to happen, and it is going to look like things are getting worse. When you are immersed in unusual situations, the usual reaction is panic, anxiety, mistrust, suspicion and all kinds of emotional responses, âScott noted.
âHaving thought that we were going to overcome the pandemic, only to hear that people who have been vaccinated are prime targets for the spread of the virus, it creates confusion and chaos in the mind. We’re going to have more people breaking down and having emotional issues. “
Like Scott, a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Dr Christopher Ogunsalu, who developed a treatment regimen for people infected with COVID-19, using Menthol Crystal, said he was extremely concerned about the latest peak but even more so because not enough effort is being put into getting people to understand the virus and how it works.
“I feel like far too many people are not properly educated about the coronavirus when it comes to transmission and treatment and this is what creates anxiety and fear,” said Ogunsalu, who has worked alongside a multinational team of healthcare professionals. and the International Postgraduate Medical College of Montego Bay on the Menthol Crystal option.
âWhen people understand what they are dealing with, it helps them cope better, so more effort needs to be put into educating people. This will help them cope better, âOgunsalu added.