Experts for pre-test counselling for COVID-19 suspects

Experts for pre-test counselling for COVID-19 suspects

Representative image. (iStock photo)

A month after the first Covid-19 patient took his own life in Bengaluru, a second Covid-19 patient ended his life at a quarantine centre at Kadandale in Dakshina Kannada district on Thursday.

Psychiatrists suggest Covid-19 wards should be inspected by architects and all potential points, where patients can endanger their lives should be sealed or safety nets should be provided.

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Dr Prabha Chandra, Professor of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, said, “It is important for structures housing Covid-19 patients to be safeguarded. Simple measures like putting a mesh in the open sides of staircases can help minimise suicides. At NIMHANS, we have no bolts for the bathrooms or if they are there, they are loose, so that a push can easily break them open.”

Getting a psychiatrist to come in along with an architect who has designed mental health facilities can be helpful, she suggested.

“We can have fire exits, for example, without it being risky for patients,” she said.

While it’s common for Covid-19 patients to be counselled by doctors once they’re admitted in the hospital, one also needs to counsel them before testing that they can be cured if tested positive. The state has so far held 1,02,994 counselling sessions for positive patients and suspects, both hospitalised and quarantined.

“Unfortunately, ours is one of the few countries where Covid-19 has become a stigmatising illness. Either they are too afraid or there is a lot of stigma,” she said.

“Even when HIV initially started, routinely we had pre-test counselling and post-test counselling on why this test is needed, how one can protect himself/herself if tested positive, how can they protect others, who to talk to, etc. Now, Covid-19 patients are taking their lives too often to ignore it. Everybody who goes through the test should be given proper counselling,” she suggested.  

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