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St Giles: Rise In Outpatients COVID-19 Related

She said the hospital was also preparing itself for a spike in mental health issues during this pandemic, which could be a contributing factor to the rising number of suicide and attempted suicide cases.
10 Aug 2020 09:36
St Giles: Rise In Outpatients COVID-19 Related
St. Giles Hospital in Suva. Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

Authorities are concerned that the rise in the number of outpatients in the country are “COVID-19-related”.

St Giles Psychiatric Hospital director of nursing, Miliakere Nasorovakawalu, said from the observation and intervention of the hospital, they had identified that there was a relationship between COVID-19 and mental health.

This, she said, was a contributing factor to mental health complications, including depression.

“What we have directly observed is that there has been an increase in the number of outpatients that we have treated during this COVID-19 period,” Ms Nasorovakawalu said.

“For that, we are not only going to wait for patients to come in to get treated, we are going into the community; we are creating that much-needed awareness.”

She said the hospital was also preparing itself for a spike in mental health issues during this pandemic, which could be a contributing factor to the rising number of suicide and attempted suicide cases.

“We are training staff to handle these cases. We are working together with the St Vincent online trainers.

“We’ve got a weekly training programme that has been happening every Thursday, which began on March 26,” she said.

“Apart from the St Vincent Online programme that we are undertaking, we have got in-house training plans that happens every week.”

Latest statistics from the Fiji Police Force has shown that 64 people have died from suicide between January and August 8, this year.

For the same period last year, 84 people died from suicide while 71 people attempted to commit suicide.

Dean for the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at the Fiji National University, Dr William May, believes the country needs to scale up mental health care urgently.

He said this was needed to prepare Fijians for the next pandemic of increased mental health issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we speak we are treating an immense number of iTaukei males, with an age range from 25 to 40, this is a COVID-19 trend,” Dr May said.

Seek help

Empower Pacific Mental Health Specialist Prem Singh said it was important that Fijians make use of the services provided.

“Our helpline has been inundated with calls on dealing with COVID-19 related issues such as loneliness, fear, anxiety, depression, uncertainty due to job loss, relationship issues caused by financial strain, relapse symptoms for individuals with mental health conditions and many more,” Ms Singh said.

“There are individuals coming up for counselling who were already living with mental health conditions faced additional challenges due to COVID-19.

“Counsellors and social workers were on call 24/7 on 7765 626 for Digicel users and 2937 141 for Vodafone users, we are urging people to make use of our services. Suicide is never the answer.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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