TTAP is the professional organization representing Psychologists in Trinidad & Tobago.
THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHOLOGISTS’ RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Free Public Assistance:
The Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists has noted an increase in persons seeking advice on how to cope with stress and anxiety and manage their mental well-being during the pandemic. We deem it our responsibility to assist the society in maintaining a level of calm, and to help others to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and others around them.
On Tuesday 24th March, 2020, we launched an initiative to help people in Trinidad and Tobago who are struggling with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This Initiative consists of a HOTLINE of persons who would service callers from East, West, Central and South Trinidad as well as in Tobago. This team of psychologists was put together with the specific goal of advising persons via telehealth methods –telephone therapy, mobile video calls, online audio calls, online video calls, text therapy, and email therapy– who may be dealing with overwhelming and persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or depression. CALL US!
Remember to do the following on a daily basis.
Wash your hands frequently (Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water)
Sanitize your space (Surfaces can be sprayed with disinfecting sprays like Lysol or wiped down with disposable wipes moistened with alcohol. Wipes should be carefully discarded after use and hands sanitized)
Offer visitors to your home, hand sanitizer upon arrival (Alcohol-based sanitizer upon entry can help stop potential Covid-19 carriers from infecting your workspace, home, door knob etc)
Maintain social distancing (Try to maintain at least 2 metres (6 feet) distance between yourself and others)
Avoid touching your face (touching eyes, nose and mouth with contaminated hands can help the virus to enter your body and make you sick)
Practice respiratory hygiene (This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.)
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, it is recommended that you seek early medical assistance. (Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention. Follow the directions of your local health authority)
Try to avoid physical greetings and farewells where possible (Try not to engage in giving handshakes, hugs, kisses as may be your custom)
Stress and Coping
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
• Children and teens
• People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
• People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
• Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns
• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
• Worsening of chronic health problems
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Things you can do to support yourself
• Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
• Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol.
• Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
• Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
Reduce stress in yourself and others
Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.
Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include
• Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
• Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
• Excessive worry or sadness
• Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
• Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
• Difficulty with attention and concentration
• Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
• Unexplained headaches or body pain
There are many things you can do to support your child
• Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
• Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
• Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
• Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
• Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:
• Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
• Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).
• Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.
• Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.
• Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.
• Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak..
For people who have been released from quarantine Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. Some feelings include :
• Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
• Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
• Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
• Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
• Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has been released from quarantine. You can help your child cope.
Know that feeling anxious about coronavirus is OK and normal.
Limit your media exposure, especially if you struggled with anxiety before the pandemic.
Do what you can to protect yourself and your family, including excellent hygiene and social distancing practices.
Seek virtual help from mental-health professionals, or download a de-stressing app.
Attempt to maintain a routine.
Eat healthy, don't smoke, and exercise when possible.
Use the time to reach out to loved ones and reconnect with old friends.
Roller coaster of feelings that can include:
- anxiety or fear – often brought on by thinking about what will the future hold
- guilt – stemming from the idea that you might have infected someone
- anger and rage - towards those who might have caused this pandemic
- survivor guilt – a sense that more should have been done to prevent this disaster
- sadness - which can lead to a depressed state