Coronavirus has affected all of us and we all are going through tough times. In this struggle of getting adjusted to the new normal and to utter shock, someday getting tested as positive for the virus, there are people who are constantly going through the loop of many phases while facing the same situation. All people react differently in their own ways and they cope with it differently. Some people tend to be naturally more resilient in the face of stress while others can feel more threatened and less able to cope.
Sometimes we don’t even realize that a person with whom we are talking to has underlying emotional problems. There is so much anxiety around the coronavirus outbreak that it is always revolving in our minds that we may be the next infected people. We have seen the help provided to the corona patients by food, medicines and clothes and other necessities. But do we even realize the mental trauma or panic that they are going through?
In the wake of this coronavirus pandemic, we see often there is a rush to meet people’s needs for water, shelter and health care and unfortunately, the psychological needs remain unmet. They have so much of overwhelming stress that they fail to actually acknowledge what they have received in the form of support just because they are mentally vulnerable.
As a Counsellor, I am volunteering for the Delhi COVID Response team and having talked to several patients who are diagnosed as corona positive, I have actually been a part of the ground reality and seen the real situations/experiences/insecurities/feelings that people have been going through. They have disruptive thoughts and escalating feelings of helplessness and anxieties. They have uncertainties of living. They sometimes come up with such thoughts as you never know what the next moment has in store for you. This crisis counselling aims to help people understand and cope with their distress making it easier in the recovery process.
But providing counselling to people, how to deal with the current situation when the pandemic is not limited to any specific individual, time or place spreads invisibly without any knowledge and has no clear end is really a challenge.
Priya (name changed) a lady in her 20s seems extremely worried for her mother who has been tested corona positive and she needs reassurance and some hope with whom I shared Positive recovery rates, making her remember that she isn’t alone. Striking a balance between being concerned about your loved ones and still staying connected with activities that they care about was what I suggested. In this platform, We rarely get the chance to talk to the same person more than once but certainly reaching out to people online makes them feel better. The amount of trust they show in you while they share stories is always respected.
In the current crisis, helping people to feel safe and less vulnerable is the key principle. This is to be done immediately after the event and has to focus on creating a stable environment for the person. Encouraging them to take safety precautions and providing tangible support to them in the form of food can be better as it is rightly talked about by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we need physiological needs like air, food, shelter, clothing and when these are fulfilled then only a human seeks the need for safety and security.
Another principle of crisis counselling focuses on providing guidance to the patients. When they are suddenly hit by a disease, they tend to lose awareness of their minds. Their mental state remains unstable. Therefore, providing guidance to them regarding general guidelines and precautions to be followed, medical treatment helps.
Helping people manage their own emotions by a sense of calm is another principle of crisis intervention. We do not necessarily tell people how they should feel or dismiss their responses. We listen to them and help them reframe the situation so that they can begin to think.
Being a trusted person in their journey will increase their health and well being. Some support in the form of active listening, emphasizing and just some amount of reflection of their thoughts help them ease out during their difficult times. Practise of self-care activities and things they love doing are good.
One such client with whom I talked shared his experiences of how he is coping with the corona positive diagnosis. In his late 60s, Mr Neelkamal ji (name changed) follows a strict quarantine routine, does meditation, listens to retro Bollywood songs, daily conversation with his family members over phone calls and keeps himself positive. Sometimes the little amount of appreciation and acknowledgement of their activities motivates them more.
In addition to this, crisis counselling isn’t just providing support but also developing coping skills by exploring their own lives and making them make a commitment to continue utilizing these skills in the future. We as Counsellors try to explore the possibilities which are already existing around them and how they could make the most of it that include exploring different solutions to problems, practising stress management strategies and encouraging positive thinking so that they can strive towards a better future.
Picture credits – Himachal Plus