The mental trauma endured by COVID-19 patients has resulted in two deaths in Tamil Nadu so far. Right from quarantine, isolation, admission and treatment, the state government has paid little or no attention to the mental well being of the suspected and positive patients. The fear of testing positive, aversion to isolation in hospitals and quarantine facilities have pushed the individuals into a state of depression.
The lack of counselling for the patients testing positive of SARS-CoV-2 infection is increasing the stress and fear for life.
TWO PATIENTS COMMIT SUICIDE
There is a rise in the suicidal tendency in patients, irrespective of whether they test positive or negative. The lack of amenities in the quarantine facilities and even in government hospitals are pushing the inmates into loneliness and desperation. The two suicides have taken place in the Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Chennai.
The two patients, aged 50 and 57, hanged themselves in the toilet windows as they were depressed after testing positive for COVID-19. The lack of attention from the administration on providing counselling to the patients on distress has come out through the incident.
Also read: Are Distress Deaths Necessary Collateral Damage of Covid-19 Response?
The government has not considered the mental trauma endured by the patients who are being isolated in hospitals. The social stigma which follows after testing positive, and the impact the viral infection may have on the family members, all play into the minds of the patients. These factors along with insecurity about their future has led to depression among the affected individuals.
‘COUNSELLING TO PATIENTS IS MANDATORY’
Dr S Kasi, general secretary of Doctors’ Forum for People’s Health accused the state government of its miserable failure in providing psychiatric counselling to the patients and the family members.
“The role of the government is massive in this aspect,but nothing is being done so far. The government should have arranged counselling for the patients even before they are being admitted to the hospitals. The government is bound to provide counselling at different stages to the patients. The procedure for admission and treatments should have been explained to ensure they are not depressed on being tested positive,” Dr Kasi said.
The delay in removing the deceased from the wards is a severe cause of concern for other individuals. Such instances impact the individuals severely and incites fear and confusion.
‘CREATING PANIC IS NO SOLUTION’
The feel of loneliness and fear of the viral infection are increasing in the people’s mind as the number of cases and deaths are increasing in the state. The number of cases in the state stands at 19,372 on May 28 with 145 deaths. The spike in cases, particularly in Chennai has been a cause of concern.
“The media and the government are reporting the cases in a way that creates panic among the public. The situation is like testing positive is the end of the game, which should be strictly avoided. The scientific approach is highly lacking in informing the patients about their results,” Dr Kasi alleged.
The functioning of the government and certain mainstream media has resulted in creating fear among the people instead of creating awareness.
‘TEST AND COUNSEL PRIMARY CONTACT’
The testing process in the state has also come in for stark criticism as primary and high risk contacts are denied testing in many of the cases. The lack of symptoms are cited as the reason for denial of the test. This approach has claimed the life of Sasikala, a worker on contract with Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC).
Also read: COVID-19: Patient Commits Suicide, Death Toll Reaches 20 in Karnataka
Hemavathy, secretary of Kolathur area Communist Party of India (Marxist), said, “She was involved in fever testing in Zone VI of the GCC. As her son had high fever, she took him for a test. She also wanted to test herself, but the health official replied that the test can be done for only one member of the family at a time.”
After her son’s result turned positive, she fought with the health officials to test herself. After being isolated, she passed away due to breathing issues on May 26, before her test results were available. “She is no more now due to the lethargy of the official machinery. The GCC has not even paid her for the past two months,” accused Hemavathy.
The stagnation in number of tests in the state, even though the state is testing more, is a matter of concern. “The state must step up the tests, particularly test the primary and high risk contacts. They should be counselled as well, before being isolated or admitted and during their stay in the hospital,” said Dr Kasi.