Covid-19: Health workers traumatised by what they see, worried about their own health

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Johannesburg – Health workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic need to be supported by building up resilience, while students should get accustomed to online learning.

This according to clinical psychologist Dessy Tzoneva who said health workers should get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, exercise and stay connected to loved ones.

“We cannot change this pandemic nor make it go away quickly, but what we can do is support our health-care workers in building up resilience and being able to cope with the challenges around them,” she said.

Tzoneva said while the rest of the country was being asked to stay home, health workers were being called to the most dangerous of environments.

“They may be feeling anxious about their health and the health of loved ones; traumatised by what they witness at work and the decisions they may have to make; challenged by the lack of resources they may encounter, and the impact this may have on their ability to keep themselves safe,” she said.

The psychologist said health workers would likely suffer from exhaustion from long working hours.

“They have a lot on their plate right now, and may be anxiously anticipating more to come,” Tzoneva said.

She encouraged students who were dealing with a lot of uncertainty around their future to navigate new ways of learning online.

“In our country, a lot of students are also not in a position to be able to access online learning, which makes the challenges of this pandemic even greater for themselves,” Tzoneva said.

She said those who were approaching the end of their studies with the current and predicted economic difficulties, can be anxious.

“And these are just a few of the battles students face,” Tzoneva said.

She said some of the ways for students to care for their mental health in these unprecedented times is to move, which she said could be achieved by skipping rope, dancing, doing jumping jacks and push-ups and following home workouts on YouTube.

“Exercise really helps us feel better,” Tzoneva said.

The Star

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL’s #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

By Lungile Matsuma


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