I am a counselor posted in a facility where COVID infected patients are being cared for. I use PPE and try to do what I can. But I am not able to help much, I cannot even relate with the patient as usual. There are physical barriers due to mask, etc., and emotional barriers also – I feel disconnected mentally. This feeling of mental disconnect also makes me feel guilty.
Seeing patients in need of psychological support but not being able to help them can naturally make one feel helpless and guilty. But I think it would be important to understand the circumstances that we are working in and the associated barriers to providing psychological services. In such a situation, where you have very little control, it may be important to acknowledge that you want to help the patients, however, there are genuine limitations in providing psychological services. In these circumstances, knowing what is under your control and thinking out of the box would be required. May be, if possible, you can work closely with the front line workers in providing psychological care to the patient. Doctors and Nurses who are caring for the patients can play a key role in extending psychological support to the them. You may also think of other ways. For example, in some hospitals there is an arrangement of mike and loud speaker. Without coming in contact with the patients, you can be in a same hall, at a safe distance, and address the patients or can be in another place and speak over mike and interact with them. These were just a few examples, based on the limitations and the resources available in your place you may think of how you can be of some help to the patients. Yes, I understand that you may not be able to connect with them the way you connect with the patients otherwise. However, through other modes of communication you may be able to develop some connect with the patients. Accepting the difficulty in connecting with the patients and the limitations in extending support to them, and by being kind to oneself and telling oneself that “I am putting my genuine efforts and trying my best” may help in staying resilient in this difficult time. I truly appreciate what you are doing. Despite knowing that you are in a high risk environment, you want to support the people in care. This needs courage and sensitivity.
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