The Covid-19 disease, which has emerged in Botswana towards the end of March when the country recorded its first three cases of the virus has left dozens of people in distress and in fear of contracting the virus. Mmegi Correspondent LESEDI MKHUTSHWA reports.
FRANCISTOWN: Mmegi spoke to some of the local social workers to get their expert opinions on the psychological impact of coronavirus on the people during the pandemic, after 28 days of practising extreme social distancing and recording 23 positive cases with one death.
In an interview with Dr. Kgomotso Jongman a practising social worker and academic who specialises in family welfare issues said that the feelings of fatigue that people are currently experiencing are more likely to be related to the mental workload associated with Covid-19 rather than the physical burden.
He further said: “Dealing with the psychological strain associated with Coronavirus could be wearing people out. Mind you others have to deal with their psychological issues and that of others.
In this case, mothers are mostly affected because they have to care for everyone in their family and forget about themselves.”
Dr. Jongman said that as for children, they would not see anything wrong for the first weeks or so during lockdown but after a few weeks later; they started being anxious and asking a lot of questions about school.
He added that most of the children feel safe at school because that’s where majority of socialisation take place hence they would need assistance from their parents to keep them emotionally stable during the pandemic.
Jongman said: “The issue of health brings in fear and anxiety. People are more afraid because they know if they get Covid-19 it easy to pass on.”
In reference to the frontline workers such as health workers he said that they are trained professionals even though they have fear, they need to shoulder on and avoid burn out and fatigue.
According to the social worker, Covid-19 is bringing in a new social order and it is traumatising time for those that have lost their loved ones and not given a chance to bury them.
He added that the burial process is a ritual meant for the loved ones to have closure,
Therefore, many people who have lost their loved ones will not have closure and that can be psychologically debilitating.
He encouraged people who are psychologically affected by Covid-19 to seek help from professionals so that they can be given proper guidance in
Dr. Jongman emphasised that change is not easy and for this reason there is need for people to get the support they need to adapt to the new lifestyle.
Another social worker, Poloko Kgopa-Sethono who spoke in her personal capacity said that the advent of Covid-19 has been felt by many people since its outbreak.
She said that many people have been unsettled largely due to what has been happening around the world, especially countries such as China, Italy and the United States of America as they experienced a frightening death toll.
She said that when the virus finally hit their shores, the government called for a 28 days lockdown in which communities were advised to practise extreme social distancing.
Kgopa-Sethono further said that employers were advised to close down their businesses and offices plus the movement from one locality to another was restricted.
She stated: “At this point, people attending funerals were limited to 50 or less and weddings were cancelled and people could not pay their last respects to their loved ones leading to delayed closure. So grieving is part of the natural processes of dealing with death and if delayed, it can lead to depression.”
The social worker further advised that people should be given space to mourn the way they deem necessary during lockdown period by their families at home without imposing judgement.
She added that staying in one place for a prolonged period of time could be emotionally taxing hence there is a need for people to support their loved ones.
She recommended that people should exercise and read on a regular basis as it is very therapeutic and can help individual’s emotional wellbeing during lockdown.
Kgopa-Sethono also said that it is very vital for frontline workers to be provided with all
necessary resources to ease the psychological burden of having to deal with issues related to the pandemic in their varied fields.
She added: “The fear of constant thoughts of contracting the virus while executing their duties can be lessened.”
She concluded that support from the members of the public through adherence to
precautionary measures can help in maintaining front line workers mental health balance.