The health officials representing the District Mental Health Programme addresses various Covid-19 related mental health issues

Gangtok, July 15(IPR): Keeping in view, the recent spike in the coronavirus positive cases in the State, the health officials representing the District Mental Health Programme (East) addressed various Covid-19 related mental health and wellbeing issues at the IEC Control Room, Health and Family Welfare Department in Gangtok today.

District Nodal Officer, District Mental Health Programme East District, Dr. Deki W. Phempu, said that assessing and addressing mental health during these trying times is of utmost importance as poor mental health can affect the ability to make healthy decisions thus compromising the immune system of a person.

In her message to the people at the containment zones of Rongli and Rhenock, Dr. Phempu sought for constructive support from the public to break the chain of the virus in the concerned areas and added that the health officials, counsellors and IEC experts will be extending their constant help and support.

Addressing the importance of community participation, Dr. Phempu said that community service providers like the NGOs, teachers and social workers can approach the Medical Officer, In-charge at any PHC for basic training on managing mental health issues.

She also informed about the health helpline numbers issued to address any grievances or crisis. Although it is not feasible for the health officials and counsellors to be physically available at the containment zones, people can reach out to them over the phone through these helpline numbers, she added.

The health helpline numbers are:
1. Grievance Redressal Cell – 104
2. 24×7 Crisis Centre – 18003453225 (helpline)/ 03592202111 (landline)
3. National helpline – 08046110007

Clinical Psychologist, STNM hospital, Dr. Sonam O. Lassopa, said that containment zones have been declared by the State government for the safety of the entire population of Sikkim as a whole and that people at these zones need not panic. She stressed on prioritizing the best approaches towards a healthy mental status and urged all to focus on staying connected while also managing the information intake. These times call for overcoming negative thoughts and embracing positive thinking, she added.

She further informed that trained counsellors and psychiatrists have already been mobilised by the Health Department in all the PHCs of the districts in order to address the stress level and anxiety of people owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Psychiatrist, STNM hospital, Dr. Upashna Gurung, said they have been receiving numerous cases of panic attacks and anxiety caused by the fear of contracting coronavirus. She stated that the doctors and counsellors have been providing both medical and psychological treatment to such patients.

She further added that this situation of psychological distress owing to the Covid-19 pandemic can be controlled by reaching out for proper help, avoiding fake rumours and information being the top priority. She encouraged all to promote mental health at an individual level and fight against the mental distress collectively while avoiding stigmatization.

State IEC Officer, Shri Sonam Gyaltsen, reiterated the golden rules required to be applied everyday to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Practising regular and thorough hand hygiene, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, proper usage and disposal of masks and maintaining strict social distancing at all times are the basic habits that people need to adhere to in today’s fight against the novel coronavirus, he stated.

Shri Gyaltsen requested all to incorporate a safe and healthy system in order to reduce the risks of spread of the virus furthermore and urged the people to maintain discipline and follow the safety guidelines. He also requested people to extend support and cooperation to the ASHA, Anganwadi and other health workers who procure information at the grassroot level as the situation today demands active participation from every individual.

Highlighting on the high rate of Covid-19 recovery cases, Shri. Gyaltsen appealed for responsible journalism from the Press and media fraternity and asked the public to follow only authentic news and information issued by the concerned authority and the media.

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