In the light of the rising complaints of mental health issues surfacing at the post-Covid care clinics, the state public health department has revised its approach to address this aspect even when a patient is being treated for the virus. Guidelines will be shortly issued across the state for sussing out the mental health condition of patients undergoing treatment for Covid-19 and start tackling them involving relevant experts. The guidelines will also be for attending to the mental health of healthcare staff whose job put them under severe stress and psychological pressure, informed officials.
While the state already had its guidelines on mental health issues of Covid-19 patients, the central health ministry issued its diktats early last month. However, now, instead of attending to the psychological needs of the patient post-recovery, the exercise will be taken up earlier even as the treatment for the virus itself is on, with counselling by psychiatrists or psychologists. This will also call for doctors and healthcare staff to be trained to identify the mental health issues in patients, before they are referred to experts in that field.
Speaking on the change of tact, Dr Archana Patil, director of health services, Maharashtra, explained, “The guidelines have now been made more comprehensive. Earlier we addressed these issues only at the post-Covid clinics but now the guidelines will be for taking it up parallelly with the treatment of the virus. In fact, mental health plays a vital role in the recovery of a patient and the guidelines will lay down protocols for screening tests, counselling and treatment.”
Prioritising the mental health of Covid-19 patients has become imperative after the observations made in the ones post-recovery, said Dr Subhash Salunkhe, the technical advisor to state government on infectious diseases. “Patients admitted to hospitals for Covid-19 should be counselled. It will help in identifying any mental health issues being experienced by the patients. Some patients have displayed psychological impact of the virus. If the hospital has in-house mental health experts it will be good, if not they should rope in such expertise,” he advised.
With the new guidelines yet to arrive, Dr Sanjeev Wavare, assistant health chief of Pune Municipal Corporation said, “As of now we have mental health experts at our post-Covid clinics, where we see issues of stress, anxiety and depression come up in Covid-19 patients. However, a more timely intervention would certainly be helpful. Even the kin of patients should seek help as soon as they notice behavioural changes in the patient.”