The psychiatry OPD of Panchkula Civil Hospital witnessed huge rush on the first day of its reopening on Wednesday, with all 50 slots booked within an hour. The increase in mental health issues amid the second wave has been significantly higher in both healthcare workers as well as the general population. “Wednesday was the first day when we resumed our OPD with a maximum of 50 slots, which was supposed to last for two hours. But the response was overwhelming with all the slots filled. We had over 15 people who were facing anxiety disorders related to COVID. This percentage has risen sharply,” said Dr MP Sharma, head of the department of psychiatry at the civil hospital. Dr Sharma said that the majority of people with mental health problems related to Covid are those who have not contracted the virus, Anxiety and OCD—especially those related to hygiene—have increased. “We are getting many cases of stress due to unemployment as well as cases of matrimonial disputes much more often than before,” he said. Health workers badly affected With the onset of the second Covid wave from the end of March, the psychiatry department of the Civil Hospital started its special services. “I was also working in the Covid wards and despite being a psychiatrist,
It was paying off. Knowing that others might be feeling the same, I discussed this with DGHS and we started counseling services in Panchkula,” said Dr Sharma. The counseling soon shifted online due to the closure of OPDs. The calls soon started and the department has since assisted over 50 doctors and nursing staff. “The numbers are quite important. Out of a total workforce of about 300 health workers working on COVID, more than 50 were called in with serious mental health problems. At least two doctors from the department were tasked to help him,” said Dr Sharma. Most of the doctors were battling with anxiety disorders, panic issues and substance abuse brought on by Covid. thin due to high patient load, A common concern facing health workers was carrying the virus home. Insomnia also increased significantly with the feeling of constant helplessness. “They will witness up to ten deaths in a day. No one was ready for this. Continuing deaths in dilapidated conditions, concerns about family members being in a high-risk area in an attempt to rescue patients catalysed a chain of events that led to mental breakdowns,
“They said. Many healthcare workers also complained of frequent trauma flash-backs. Dr Sharma said, “While many people are unable to sleep due to trauma and get flashbacks, many others have dreamed of running away, trying to save people.” Comparing the effects of the first and second wave, he said, “The impact on mental health disorders in this wave was much greater. While I used to get ten calls in the first wave, which in itself was quite alarming, this time the number exceeded five times. As the fatigue of Kovid increases, it has to bear the brunt. There is significant burning as we prepare for the third wave. “Increased Screen Time Affecting Children” We have started seeing children suffering from issues arising out of the current situation. The parents of a 6 year old kid visited me recently, Suspecting that their daughter has mental retardation and hyperactivity disorder. She complained that her ward did not understand what they were saying, would speak only when she wanted to, and was always moving around,” said Dr Sharma. An examination of the child proved that he had an age-appropriate level of intelligence. “It was that her screen time had increased so much that she was not interacting with anyone,” he said. .