Depression cases rise as virus hits workers’ income

As published on standardmedia.co.ke on May 18th 2020

Stress and loss of income top psychological issues that Covid-19 patients face, reports have shown. It also emerged that more male than female patients seek counseling.The details are contained in two reports compiled from Kenya Red Cross Society call centre and the Psychological Support Programme (PSP) run by Minet Insurance Brokers and Absa Group.The two initiatives supervised by the Ministry of Health show that Covid-19 patients seek counseling for other non-health related issues such as hunger due to loss of income and whether schools national examinations will be postponed.

“Inquiries were also made on other issues such as floods, depression, burnout, financial or food aid, medical bills, relationships, rape, and domestic violence,” said Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache.Data from PSP’s emergency centre that is managed by Minet Insurance shows 54 per cent of callers who sought counselling were men, 29 female, while the rest did not disclose their gender.Ms Mochache noted that 69 per cent of the callers were men and 31 per cent female.While a bigger number of the patients (14.9 per cent) were unreachable, stress and anxiety was reported among 25.6 per cent of those who called for counselling.

Behaviour change

Some 4.6 per cent of the callers had financial stress while 3.7 complained of hunger. Loss of income was reported as the main issue among 6.2 per cent of the callers, the same as those who called seeking more information on Covid-19.Overall, the ministry data revealed that to date 2,330 persons had sought counseling through the toll-free line 1199.The PS said 483 mental health practitioners countrywide had been trained on Covid-19 and psychological first aid.“These include clinical supervisions conducted to 20 counsellors at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Mbagathi, and 71 staff at KNH trained on psycho-social first aid, personal protection, self-care, counsellor debriefing and trauma counselling,” said Mochache.

The PS added that the ministry would continue to support efforts by Minet Kenya Insurance Brokers Ltd and Absa Kenya to come up with a psycho-social support programme for members of the public affected by the pandemic.The public reach counsellors through toll-free line: 0800 720028 for tele-counsellingThe programme helps those in isolation and quarantine to address psycho-social issues by staying connected and maintaining their social networks.While in isolation, patients can engage in healthy activities and adopt positive behaviour change to keep things in perspective.The partnership also helps people in isolation or quarantine to access news and reports about Covid-19 through Minet’s organised webinars.

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