Kottayam to look after COVID survivors’ mental health

New scheme will identify those with mental health issues, ensure professional help

As the lingering effects of COVID-19 on physical health are emerging, so too are its impact on mental health of the survivors.

To ensure long-term support to those who survived the infection but are suffering from its crippling impact on mental health, the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in Kottayam has rolled out a scheme titled ‘Ottaykkalla, Koodeyund Kottayam’ (Not alone, Kottayam is with you).

The project, being implemented in association with the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) and other agencies, including local-self governments, aims at bringing mental health experts to the frontline role against the pandemic.

Problems abound

According to M. Anjana, District Collector and chairperson of the DDMA, the project is being rolled out after taking into account the mental impact of the prolonged stasis imposed by lockdown, pandemic-related deaths, and hospitalisation.

“To begin with, we will approach through ward-level committees people who have lost their family members, those who underwent treatment, those facing social and psychological isolation, those who have lost their jobs, and those facing family problems. Among these, people who are experiencing severe post-traumatic stress disorders will be identified through interactions with their family members,” the official said.

Social workers, PG students roped in

The authorities have also roped in several professional social workers and about 500 postgraduate students of social work from eight colleges. The volunteers have already been given special training under the leadership of KILA.

“While those with mild mental health issues will be counselled under the supervision of professional counsellors, experts will provide counselling directly to those experiencing severe emotional problems. Those found in need of the services of mental health professionals will be referred to doctors at the General and Taluk hospitals and the Government Medical College Hospital,” added Ms. Anjana.

Officials are also planning to constitute special committees at the local bodies for the purpose. Elected representatives, officials and professional social work students, ICDS supervisor, village extension officer, health inspector, panchayat representative, CDS chairperson, KILA facilitator, and Health Department representatives will be part of the system.

Health Minister Veena George inaugurated the project at a brief function here on Saturday afternoon. Cooperation Minister V.N. Vasavan released the logo. Joy Ilamon, director of KILA, delivered the keynote address.

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