A video that aims to address health care workers’ anxieties related to dealing with COVID-19 is the product of a collaboration between UKZN’s Department of Psychology, an adult education specialist, and the Centre for Rural Health (CRH).
The four-part video project was commissioned by Professor Inge Petersen and was developed by the Mental Health Integration Programme (MhINT) and the Southern African Research Consortium for Mental health INTegration (S-MhINT) teams led through the CRH to address the anxieties health care workers may face, and provides problem management techniques to help them cope.
It was developed in response to a request by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DoH) to support the development and evaluation of a mental health and psychoeducational support package for frontline workers, patients and community members, as well as healthcare managers in line with their Mental Health and Psychosocial (MHPSS) response to the COVID-19 pandemic in KZN. The storyboard was developed in consultation with the KZN DoH and a multidisciplinary team including academics, mental health specialists, researchers and an adult education specialist.
The need to strengthen mental health and psychosocial support among communities and health care providers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is widely acknowledged. Studies have shown that health care workers experience significant stressors, resulting in mental health problems.
‘Much of the stress and anxieties related to COVID-19 experienced by frontline workers are grounded in concerns related to fear of infection; fear for the safety of their families; the adequacy of personal protective equipment (PPE)and feeling ill-equipped to manage COVID-19 patients despite up-dated policies and clinical/practice guidelines that are still in the development stages and have yet to filter down to all frontline staff,’ said UKZN academic Dr Ruwayda Petrus. ‘There are uncertainties about whether they will be able to cope when the pandemic is at its peak, as they will be expected to care for an increasing number of patients with the same staff complement – which in turn will lead to additional stress.’
While the first video was a response to anxiety and stress related to lockdown aimed at all levels of society, the second primarily addresses problem management for health care workers dealing with COVID-19. The third and fourth videos are currently in production. One is aimed at health care providers and addresses the issue of leadership, while the other targets community members and deals with grief and bereavement.