Mental health in a pandemic: what to do to ease the burden on people with disabilities?

depressed 2020_

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Foka Koagne Brice Maxime, an MBBS fifth year medical student at the Jiujiang University Jiangxi province in China. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Today, the whole world is facing a new pandemic: COVID-19.

The threat and spread of COVID-19 continues to affect our mental health ,bringing more stress and anxiety, disrupting lives everywhere, no-one can be sure what our world will look after this situation.

So , Although this pandemic affects people mental health , certain groups are more impacted than others : the people with disabilities  particularly in situations of partial or complete lockdown or confinement , can increase their vulnerability.

So , According to Ms Catalina Devandas (Costa Rica) who was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities in June 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council, she said  that on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: “People with disabilities feel they have been left behind,” the UN human rights expert said; “Containment measures, such as social distancing and self-isolation, may be impossible for those who rely on the support of others to eat, dress and bathe.” “Many people with disabilities depend on services that have been suspended and may not have enough money to stockpile food and medicine, or afford the extra cost of home deliveries.” having a look at these few elements, we can observe an Unfavorable living conditions which can affect the people living with disabilities with this stressful situation. So the question is what to do to ease the burden of mental health on people with disabilities during a pandemic?

Thus , certain element of response will be done for example by:

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– During the confinement , we should prioritizing them to ensure meeting their needs because the confinement could mean abandoning persons with disabilities, instead of to stand together.

–  Health personnel must be trained to serve the needs of persons with disabilities infected by providing information in accessible formats,fluid communication, providing reasonable accommodations and always respecting their dignity, autonomy and the privacy of their personal data.

– Public information and communications during the pandemic should be accessible through sign language, Braille, augmentative and alternative modes, means, and formats of communication and with technologies appropriate to different types of disabilities, in their own languages, including the Internet and other digital formats that must be accessible.

– Mental health professionals should, with the mandatory precautions for this pandemic, provide care to persons with disabilities in need of attention

– The opening of recreation, very important at this moment, promoting and facilitating access to virtual public activities for persons with disabilities, including concerts, comedy routines, etc.

So, these few elements can contribute to ease the burden of mental health on people with disabilities during a pandemic.

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References

  • Mental Health of Persons with Disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic Available in pdf :Salud-Mental-Covid19-y-personas-con-discapacidad-ENGapril15

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About the author

Foka Koagne Brice Maxime, an MBBS fifth year medical student at the Jiujiang University Jiangxi province in China. Affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA)

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