I interviewed her from Jerusalem, Juman Abu Arafa
In light of the increasing interest in physical health in the time of the new Corona virus “Covid-19”, the psychiatrist and head of the mental health unit in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Samah Jabr, stress that caring for mental health is equally important, and that exaggerated fear and fear will affect the individual’s psychological immunity in the future .
In a special interview with Al-Jazeera Net, the doctor indicated that “crises are opportunities” and the Corona crisis is an opportunity to learn and strengthen the societal fabric, suggesting that the impact of the disease will be positive on psychological and societal immunity after receding, if individuals have responsibility and flexibility.
First of all, what is mental health? Is it less important than physical health?
Mental health is an integral part of health in general, and mental and physical health are on the same health spectrum and are affected by each other in a dynamic relationship. If mental health improves, physical improves, and vice versa.
Mental health means “the level of feeling healthy and the absence of diseases and mental disorders”, and it reflects the extent of emotional satisfaction, behavioral adaptation, the ability of a person to enjoy life, his sense of competence, independence, self-fulfillment, and societal contribution.
What threatens our mental health in light of the spread of Corona disease?
The existence of the disease and the media panic surrounding Corona make people anxious. At the individual level, individuals feel tense, anxious, confused, and have their fears amplified. On the collective level, they can enter into a panic at the purchasing level, for fear of the lack of certain materials, and they are terrified of taking lives.
And their psychological pressure can turn into a feeling of anger at governments, the medical sector and its workers. For when a person feels threatened and anxious, he expresses that anger at others sometimes.
With so much news and rumors flowing and intimidation, how can we control mental health?
Rumors may be the most harmful thing to people’s mental health, so the solution to information confusion and psychological disorder that occurs from rumors lies in making sure reliable sources such as the medical authority in the country or the World Health Organization, because people who confuse in these circumstances are the ones who lack the medical information, so their fears are exaggerated in relation to The size of the threat. But feeling anxious proportional to the simple and realistic risk of the virus is acceptable.
It should be emphasized that rumors traders are more at risk, as they fall prey to exaggerated fear, or follow non-medically approved and unreliable health measures such as sage, garlic, onion, and other things that do not bear conclusive evidence of their efficacy.
What is the hair between responsibility and fear in dealing with “Corona’s time”?
Responsibility is a very positive feeling if a person follows the steps required of him and what his individual duties dictate to protect society. This disease may not have a current medication, but we have a serum that is individual and societal awareness and the individual’s sense of responsibility towards others, without exaggerating precautionary measures.
There is a set of advice circulated by the World Health Organization, such as maintaining the appropriate distance, avoiding gathering, disposing of dirty papers and napkins, and sanitary isolation. The more the responsibility of the individual, follow the instructions more precisely, although this virus escapes from the vast majority of people, especially those in a generation. Small or no immune diseases, the responsibility remains so as not to transmit the infection to the weakened immune system.
As for fear, it occurs when the individual exaggerates the precautionary procedures or is disrupted in performing and practicing his daily life. A flexible person is the one who finds alternatives and continues in life and caring for his children and communicating with others in a beneficial way while finding a safe alternative such as canceling meetings and conducting them electronically.
The important thing is to maintain the routine because it organizes life. As for emptiness, it increases confusion, so we must find alternatives that help us to be flexible and productive so that we do not fall prey to the prey of anxiety and stress resulting from emptiness.
Why do you think the topic of Corona frightens people?
There are some people with characters who are already concerned, these people will aggravate anxiety in the time of Corona, I receive daily phone calls and people in my clinic visit me mainly with obsessive-compulsive disorder and health concern related to diseases in light of the presence of the virus in the atmosphere, as if it became a catalyst for the emergence of other symptoms and obsessive symptoms.
In addition to rumors and intimidation, the people’s fear of corona stems from the fact that a person is afraid of what he is ignorant of more than what he knows, and there is a percentage of mystery and unknown in the disease of corona arouses suspicion in people.
The dismay also stems from the fear and anxiety in the long term, which weakens the ability to work, along with the closure and the travel ban that generate additional losses, tensions and psychological consequences for society even if its members are not injured. The closure of restaurants, schools and parks constitutes a state of pressure that exacerbates the pressure and tension of societies.
People are not only nervous about their fear of death or physical harm, but also of their fear of unemployment, isolation and social exclusion if it is rumored that he is sick or quarantined, so he is afraid of losing his job and is afraid of being a source of infection, so some of them disavow themselves and hide their coming from a state The disease has spread.
Are there any tips for all segments of society regarding managing emotions in light of the crisis?
For children, it is important that they are made aware of phrases that do not frighten them and fit their mental level, that parents do not show anxiety in front of their children and not talk excessively on the subject. This is also an opportunity to educate them about personal hygiene, and fill their free time well, taking into account that they are not interrupted from education for a long time, and that the child does not remain locked in the home, also must be exposed to air and the sun under supervision away from any sick children.
As for the elderly, they are almost thinner than children, and they have a higher health and psychological fragility than others, so it is important to stay close and communicate with them, with great care not to transmit infection to them, and support them morally and healthly, including good nutrition, sports and ventilation, and caring for the appearance Any symptoms are satisfactory so that necessary healthcare is not delayed.
There is also the medical sector that provides the service to the injured, as these are put in additional pressure as a result of the increased burden on them, as they have to move away from their children, spouses and families, and have more precautions than others, especially since some medical service providers have been infected with the virus. Therefore, they had to be commended for what they do, support them socially, provide psychological support and advice to them, and do not blame them and criticize them both in small and large. It is not possible to lose sight of the patient’s family, who are in urgent need of balanced and reassuring medical information.
How do parents explain to a child the correct corona and without intimidating him?
It is important to explain to the child according to his mental and linguistic ability in simple terms without expressing excessive concern by the parents, awareness of the importance of personal hygiene, the use of tissues when sneezing or covering the mouth, not contacting sick people, eating well-cooked food, not touching the mouth, nose and eyes frequently, and using sterile alcohol.
And to explain to the child what is the Corona virus according to his age, the children are not far from them the idea of germs and diseases, and to call the names by their names like to say to them, “We are going through a period in which a bacterium named Corona must be careful and keep it clean”, without knowing difficult and troubling things As painful symptoms and the death of some people due to illness.
We can also say it is an influenza-like virus, displaying illustrative pictures of the child, and we say that the virus comes from outside the country and spreads quickly, and we urge his courage and his ability to confront by saying that washing his hands and maintaining his cleanliness expels the disease.
If a person becomes infected with the virus, how does he care about his mental health?
Immediately feeling symptoms, he should urgently seek medical help and adhere to instructions, and not be afraid of medical procedures, and pay attention to psychological enjoyment, such as electronic communication with friends and family, and balanced sleep hours, while staying away from abnormal ways to reduce anxiety such as drinking alcohol and smoking, and avoiding disturbing news, And that he distracts himself with comedy and music, for example, and maintains balanced nutrition and proper ventilation and practices sports.
The biggest psychological challenge facing the injured is boredom, loneliness, depression and impotence, as this hurts more than the physical symptoms that may not appear on everyone, so it is important not to stigmatize the sufferers socially, and to intensify electronic communication with them, and give them some independence to reduce the severity of isolation.
How do you explain the deliberate spitting and sneezing of some people in public places to transmit the disease to others?
This is what we saw in the 1980s, after the spread of AIDS, as much as patients were exposed to social stigma and isolation, some of them tried to inject others with the virus. Dealing with patients with disgust and racism can create a feeling of hostility for a simple group, to ease their social isolation.
This falls within indifference and recklessness. The more a person matures, he takes a high responsibility in maintaining societal integrity. If he is careless and indifferent, this reflects lack of awareness, concern, narcissism and self-centeredness.
What is the positive effect of corona on people’s psychological immunity? How can they take advantage of it?
In addition to the psychological immunity that the individual and society will acquire, he will gain learning about health matters in general, learning to maintain personal health, learning responsibility towards society, learning positive interaction with crises, learning positive flexibility with changing routines in life and leisure, and learning asceticism in matters that individuals are used to On her and vanished with emergency mode.
The Corona virus crisis has become a global epidemic, and societal cooperation and individual responsibility will make people experience this experience with psychological pain, less loss and sadness, and in return they will feel proud of their altruism and responsibility. There is a Japanese proverb that says “crises are opportunities”, and this crisis is an opportunity to learn important values of social fabric.
I believe that after the virus has ended, people’s psychological immunity will be higher. Today we are inspired by courage from the crises that we experienced previously. Each society has its own crises, crises make the individual and society stronger, and the good qualities of society emerge from volunteering, cooperation and social responsibility. I believe that this crisis will make Communities are better after a while, they will learn to maintain personal calm and provide the necessary care to the surrounding people.