FEAR, worry, and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, and at times when people are faced with uncertainty or the unknown it is normal and understandable that people are exhibiting abnormal behaviour.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Esther Utjiua Muinjangue said that COVID-19 did not only impact various spheres of life such as the economy, industries, global market, agriculture, but also human health, health care, and especially mental health.
Muinjangue is of the opinion that there is no health without mental health.
“Hence, during difficult times like the one the world finds itself in at the moment it is important that we are in good space mentally,” she said.
She said that the pandemic has had an alarming negative health, emotional, and social functioning impact on individuals and the nation as a collective.
“The numbers of people who have COVID-19, people who are being treated for COVID-19, or people who are recovering from COVID-19, are skyrocketing. It is no longer numbers statistics but now those numbers have names and faces. Every day you hear about a person that you know who succumbed to COVID-19. This is causing a lot of fear and anxiety in people. So mentally people are very much affected,” she said.
She said Namibia’s mental health professionals such as social workers, psychologists, are already overwhelmed.
“They have an important role in monitoring psychosocial needs and delivering psychosocial support to their patients and their families, fellow health care providers, and the public,” she said.
Muinjangue urged people to avoid unnecessary stress by only listening to trusted COVID-19 sources and following the advice of such sources.
“In that way you can take practical steps to prepare, plans, and protect yourself and your loved ones. Seek information updates at specific times during the day for example during the COVID-19 panel discussions from the Government Information and Communication Center,” she said.
The deputy minister was of the opinion that the constant stream of news reports about the pandemic is causing everyone to feel worried.
“Get the facts not rumours and misinformation. Stay away from conspiracy theories because such information only causes more confusion and depression. People should make paradigm shift in their minds and adopt a more positive outlook,” she advised.
She further advised the people should be supportive to others in whatever way possible.
“Supporting others in their time of need benefits both, the one receiving support and the person offering help. Simple acts such as checking by telephone on neighbours or people in your community who may need some extra assistance will mean a lot to them,” she said.
Muinjangue said that it is important to assist care givers and healthcare workers who are constantly on their feet, trying their best to provide vital medical services to the people affected by COVID-19.
“We should acknowledge the role care givers and health care workers are playing in saving lives and keeping your loved ones safe. If you need professional psycho-social support and counselling, please visit your nearest social workers, psychologists, in your local area,” the deputy health minister advised.