Feeling proud to help helpless through helpline service during COVID-19
Prepared by: Jamuna Maharjan
Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Nepal (TPO Nepal) has been continuing its helpline services for remote psychosocial counseling over extended hours following COVID-19 outbreak and declaration of nationwide lockdown by Nepal government on 23rd March, 2020. The extended hours for remote psychosocial support covers the time from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. I have received 55 calls so far. While some of the callers had serious mental health issues, majority of the calls have been from young people about their anxiety on future uncertainties. More than having fear of likely getting infected with COVID-19, people are worried further about the implications of this pandemic and young population is no exception to this. They have been suffering from anxiety and aggression. They are worried about their studies and career. They reported having lack of concentration, low energy, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite (loss of appetite or overeating), and change in daily habits.
Helpline callers have been using their computer and mobile phones for longer period as the world has shifted towards online platform for work, study and daily operations recently. Increased screen exposure time seems to have resulted in getting addicted to staying online, and thus seem to pose difficulties in time management for personal care, sleep and food habits. Additionally, exposure to false news and information broadcasted or shared through social media seem to have reportedly increased associated anxiety and stress.
Among the calls received, females have been observed to face higher level of stress, anxiety and mental burden. Working mothers and housewives have reported cases of conflict and domestic violence. For instance, a client who has been experiencing household conflicts and domestic violence during the lockdown has been receiving regular online sessions for tension release. After receiving four sessions so far, she has been demonstrating a positive change in coping behavior.
Furthermore, parents report feeling worried and being concerned about children’s need and how have they been struggling to make schedule of their child’s engagement while being at home. With schools shut and parents working from home, they reported struggling to understand their children’s behaviors and ways they can assist in making the most of their time home.
List of interventions provided during sessions:
- Assessment on current problem, situation and previous history
- Taking family tree and history
- Attentive listening and expression of appropriate empathy during the session
- Strengthening coping strategy
- Teach Deep Breathing Exercise
- Teach TRE (Tension/ Trauma Releasing Exercise)