40K migrants given counselling before exit from Pune district
Psychiatrists and psychologists in the Aundh district hospital have been counselling migrant labourers in various camps across the cityUpdated: Jun 05, 2020 16:11 IST
Most migrant workers want to leave the city as they fear getting infected with Sars-Cov-2 virus which causes the Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection,” says Dr Madhumita Bahaley, the officer in charge of the mental health programme for the district.
She is also involved in counselling migrant workers at various construction sites in rural and urban areas during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Psychiatrists and psychologists in the Aundh district hospital have been counselling migrant labourers in various camps across the city. In addition to Covid-19 positive patients and their relatives being counselled, the migrant workers also need counselling, they say.
Dr Bahaley said, “We have counselled about 40, 000 workers in the district in both in urban and rural areas and most of them wanted to leave the city. This is before the third lockdown when most commercial activities had still not started. Till May 17 we have covered most labour camps and construction sites.”
“The mental health department has issued orders to attend to the mental health of the migrant workers who are also deeply affected by the Covid pandemic. We want to provide them with positive mental health counselling to remove fear among the workers,” said Dr Bahaley.
She further added, “We also got assistance from Bharati Hospital, Sinhgad hospital, the regional mental hospital, Yerawada and the medical college at Talegaon and some NGO’s. They were mainly worried about the extended lockdown and the uncertainty about how many more days this would continue.”
“The most common query they had was when would the lockdown be lifted and when would they get to go home. They wanted to go home since Pune is a Covid hotspot and the fear of infection was there as many lived here with their families,” said Dr Bahaley.
She also added that as most of the question of the labourers were answered, they were satisfied and the fear was addressed. She said, “We fear that most of the patients do recover and the symptoms are mild and the mortality rate is also low. We did explain to them that it is easy to avoid infection by hand and respiratory hygiene and social distancing.”
“We wanted to mainly give them reassurance and that no one should panic at the name of corona and deal with it confidently and take proper care,” she added.
Dr Sagar Mundada, psychiatrist and former president of the Maharashtra Association of resident doctors (MARD) said, “It is extremely important to address the concerns of migrant workers. It is natural for them to feel the urge to return home. As humans, we feel the safest when we are home. However, first, we must help them get rid of the fear that they might have in this pandemic situation. This can be done only by clearing rumours or doubts which they might have.”
“Mass counselling would not be effective as much as one on one counselling as each individual may have different problems. The government can launch a 24*7 counselling helpline number dedicated only for migrant labours counselling,” he said.
The district hospital has also installed speaker system at its hospitals wherein all the patients in the ward are given counselling at the same time and in case anyone has any personal queries they can always reach to us, she added.
‘Gender does not matter when it comes to anxiety’
“With regards to patients it is seen that although men seem to be more anxious, they do not ask as many questions as women. However, anxiety is something that cannot be measured and does not necessarily have anything to do with gender. We want our patients to remain mentally strong because immunity is affected when mental health is disturbed,” said Dr Madhumita Bahaley.