Health-care workers see rise in mental health queries by residents

Though up-to-date data is not available, health-care professionals have seen a notable rise in mental health queries and stress among residents over the last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Nursing Officer in the Drug Rehabilitation Unit at the Barbados Psychiatric Hospital, Joel Barrow says although individuals may not have been diagnosed with a known mental health disorder, the pandemic had indeed placed significant mental burdens on locals, who are currently having a difficult time managing with stress.

“What I can say is that there is an increase of mental health challenges; may not be as far as having a mental health disorder, but some challenges in coping. In COVID, you have loss of life, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, you have a lot of anxiety [and] you have depression. Those persons who would have had mental health challenges before, it may or may not affect them, and those who did not have challenges before, because they did not have these external situations happening to them, obviously it would have impacted on their wellbeing,” he said.

Barrow also noted that although those suffering mentally may not have visited any health-care institution physically for help, there has been an increase in digital interactions with psychiatrists over video and over the phone.

“[They may] not necessarily come into a hospital, but [they] would seek support from the [Psychiatric] Hospital itself because we have the Assessment Unit and it does not mean you have to come to the hospital, you can call us if you want someone to talk to.

“There was a surge, not a big one, of suicide when COVID first began, and the hospital quickly acted on that and brought in a hotline where if you can’t seem to actually get in hospital you can call and tell us your problem there and we can counsel you,” he added.

Barrow recently presented the winning cheque to the team behind Quantum Productions, for a jingle competition held in 2020, in recognition of World Mental Health Day.

The team behind the $1000 winning entry, Kevin ‘Sluggy Dan’ Watson and Randy Eastmond of Quantum Productions, both said that their entry into the competition was fueled primarily by their wish to see more attention drawn to mental health issues, predominantly experienced by the youth.

Eastmond, who also helped facilitated ‘Youth in the Spotlight’, an initiative that centers around helping young people hone their skills and interests, said, “With the prevailing challenges in society in terms of mental health, I am always in support of anything that will help the development of young people and the development of humanity. We know the challenges that our young people face just from being at home; education, daily living, regular teenage challenges. Mental health is something very serious.”  (SB)

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