A mother of a 5 year old girl is in a lot of distress due to the fear that she, her daughter or other family members might get corona. She is crying and crying, washing hands excessively, etc. How can I help her?
The first step in helping her is gathering further information to ensure that she belongs to the ‘worried well’ category. ‘Worried well’ are people who have no pre-existing mental illness, and the current symptoms are an exaggerated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this group of clients, there is no past psychiatric history, sleep/appetite are normal, and there are no pervasive changes in mood. For such clients, the mental health professional (MHP) can focus on – a.) validation of concerns, b.) reassurance, c.) examining sources of information that are making the client anxious and d.) teaching simple relaxation exercises. Validation should include how uncertainty and rapidly changing scenarios affect healthy people. Specifically, a dialogue can be initiated about – what are the ‘realistic chances’ of contracting severe illness for the client/family members and what are ‘reasonable precautions’. Limiting information sources to a newspaper or government websites, maintenance of routine, deep breathing exercises and seeking help again are some prescriptive suggestions for these clients.
Section A.10, Allaying anxiety of the worried well, Mental Health in the times of COVID-19 Pandemic, NIMHANS, 2020, Available at: <a href=”http://nimhans.ac.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/MentalHealthIssuesCOVID-19NIMHANS.pdfhttp://nimhans.ac.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/MentalHealthIssuesCOVID-19NIMHANS.pdf”>http://nimhans.ac.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/MentalHealthIssuesCOVID-19NIMHANS.pdf</a>
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