Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday instructed the Health Ministry, concerned bodies and mental health experts to prepare immediate plan to tackle with the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people.
During a meeting with psychiatrists at his official residence in Baluwatar today, Prime Minister Oli asked them to provide counseling to help people cope with fear, anxiety, distress and sadness caused by pandemic.
“As the cases of anxiety and depression are progressively increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, psychosocial counseling is a must for the mental wellbeing of the people,” he said.
He said psychiatrists could play a special role in building a society free from fear, depression and anxiety.
The media like television and radio should initiate massive awareness programme to help people manage their mental health issues, he said.
In the meeting, Prime Minister Oli and mental health experts discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the people’s mental health and ways to minimise the negative impact of the pandemic on the public.
Prof. Dr Saroj Prasad Ojha, Chief of the Mental Health Department of Tribhuvan University of Teaching Hospital (TUTH), said during the meeting, Prime Minister Oli raised his concerns over the impact of the pandemic in the mental wellbeing of the people and government’s step to deal with the issue.
Dr. Ojha said the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession had negatively affected many people’s mental health and added a new burden to the people already suffering from mental illness. There is a need for changing people’s perception towards the mental health, said Dr. Ojha, adding that mental health services should be made accessible in every district level hospital.
Dean of the Medical Science Department of the TU Dr. Divya Singh Shah said during the meeting Prime Minister Oli sought suggestions from the psychiatrists to free the people from anxiety and fear caused by COVID-19.
The doctors and mental health experts said that suicide rate has significantly increased during and after the lockdown.
They also asked the government to pay serious attention to address the issue.
Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, Prof.Dr Sudarshan Narsingh Pradhan, Dr. Pashupati Mahat, Dr. Ritesh Thapa, Dr. Sagun Panta, Dr. Ananta Adhikari, Dr. Phadindra Baral and Dr. Roshan Pokharel were presenting the meeting.