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Don't overlook coronavirus impact on mental health, UK-based expert says

by Bulawayo24 Correspondent
14 Mar 2020 at 14:59hrs | Views
In the wake of ongoing global outbreak of coronavirus, renowned mental health practitioner Carole Nyakudya has called on African governments not to ignore the epidemic's mental health impact.


Carole of UK-headquartered Lorac Healthcare said the coronavirus epidemic was causing increased stress and anxiety, particularly people with existing mental health problems.

Eight more South Africans have tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total to 24. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the cases are confined to four provinces: KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng (with 10 cases each), the Western Cape (three cases) and Mpumalanga (one case).

"African governments must not ignore the mental health impact of the coronavirus because there is likely to be increased anxiety with more cases being confirmed.

"The extreme stress and trauma associated with this stems from the fact that while trusted health experts are able to give information about COVID-19, there are no answers as yet in terms of vaccination to thwart this outbreak," Ms Nyakudya said. 

She said reactions to the crisis can include feeling fearful, sad and helpless.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged that the crisis is triggering stress and has advised people to avoid watching, reading or listening to news that causes feelings of anxiety or distress.

Carole, who has been practicing as a mental health professional for 20 years, added that quarantine or self-isolation is likely to have a negative impact on mental well-being. 

"Being separated from one's loved ones at a time like this is not easy, uncertainty over disease status, and boredom can also have a negative impact," she said.

Carole was due to tour the SADC in April to speak to, at least, 2 000 about taking care of their emotional well-being. The tour, which is scheduled to cover South African, Zimbabwe and Botswana, is now in doubt because of the outbreak.

Source - Bulawayo24 Correspondent

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