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Given the rising mental health concerns due to the ongoing pandemic, the Union Health Ministry on Sunday issued guidelines on 'Managing Mental Illness In Hospital Setting During The Pandemic'.
The ministry stated that COVID facilities must have the provision of psychiatric consultation that can help to protect vulnerable patients to psychiatric disorders as well as frontline healthcare workers.
The guidelines would address specific needs, including managing COVID-19 patients who suffer from trauma or depression, pandemic-induced depression and those who are already suffering from severe mental health issues, reported The News Minute.
The government will assign a nodal officer for reviewing these guidelines periodically, update and share the work of mental health professionals and healthcare establishments who cater to those with mental health issues.
They are based on current recommendations and protocols of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the information available on COVID-19. They are prepared and examined by the experts from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru.
The guidelines provided will be carried out as per provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, the health ministry added. Facility for consultation with a psychiatrist should be available either in person or by teleconsultation.
According to the report, over 30 per cent of people are diagnosed with depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (almost everybody diagnosed with COVID-19 - 96 per cent) could be much higher. Along with it, patients with pre-existing psychiatric disorders may experience a recurrence or worsening of their symptoms.
Many other psychiatric symptoms were noted during the pandemic, including anxiety, non-specific psychological distress, stress symptoms, insomnia, hallucinations, paranoid and suicidal ideas.
"Besides, worries related to the restriction of lifestyles, issues pertaining to special populations including children and adolescents, job losses and uncertainty about the future, increase in domestic violence and child abuse have also been reported. Therefore, there is a need for specific guidelines for medical officers and mental health professionals on how to prevent the infection and provide COVID-19-related care in hospital-based settings," the media quoted the Ministry's document.
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