Psychological support for medical staff during public health crisis
Social distancing heightens general public's anxiety, especially when friends or family members fall ill
The past few weeks have been particularly trying for society at large, with the declaration of a state of alarm on March 14 severely restricting everyone's daily routines in an attempt to halt the spread of Covid-19, which as of yet has seen tens of thousands of people fall ill and thousands die.
Catalonia's public health workers are acutely aware of this dire situation having had to bear the brunt of it daily as they try to assist the growing number of people affected by the disease while trying to not get sick themselves, sometimes with limited medical resources.
Beyond the physical toll exhaustion and illness has on medical professionals on the front line of the disease, the extreme working conditions have also been profoundly psychologically distressing to many.
"We're doing the best we can given the circumstances," explains Josep Antoni Ramos Quiroga, who is at the head of Barcelona's Hospital Clínic's psychiatric service – a sentiment that is echoed by many of the health professionals that have reached out to Vall d'Hebron hospital's psychological support service since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.
In addition to Vall d'Hebron, the Galatea Foundation, comprised of psychology and psychiatry professionals, has also been providing mental health assistance to doctors and nurses under strain.
Strain on general population
Aware of the fact that the pandemic has been causing elevated levels of stress and anxiety among the general population that have been heightened by the necessary social distancing measures, Vall d'Hebron has also extended the service to the public, especially those with family members who are ill or who have died.
Not being able to be close to loved ones before they pass due to the highly infectious nature of the virus can feel both isolating and distressing. Despite this, Dr. Ramos Quiroga, has sought to assuage the grief of friends and family members by assuring them that they are not alone.
"People don't die alone in hospitals. They've died accompanied by professionals who have held their hands," Ramon Quiroga claims.