COVID-19: survivors say mental health key to defeating virus

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Some survivors of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), says  mental health is key to defeating the virus.

The COVID-19 survivors said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja.

Ms Mary Adenuga, 29, and a lawyer said that she recovered from the infection having tested positive on July 17. 

She said that she experienced severe chest pains, extreme fatigue,  lack of appetite and a high fever.

“After eventually going through with the test, I spent 14 days at home in self-isolation while waiting for the test results.

“My worst fear was  confirmed when the results came out positive.  By that time, i was already taking remedies like ,ginger and lemon. Steaming myself with ointment and drinking lots of hot beverages

“When I knew my status, I continued to self-isolate while religiously taking remedies to treat my  symptoms,” she said.

She counselled people who tested positive to shut out negative thoughts of how dangerous and lethal the virus could be.

The lawyer advised them to stay positive and be strong mentally at all times.

“As a Christian, I kept telling myself that it is not over until God says it is over, that helped me block out any negative energy.

“I didn’t receive any counseling prior to receiving my results, and I wished I had,” she said.

The lawyer reiterated the importance of emotional support for COVID-19 patients.

Mr Elias Osakwe , 43-year-old Psycologist admonished the government to make mental health issues part of post COVID-19.

“We need to be vigilant about screening patients, looking for signs and symptoms in our loved ones and friends, and even ourselves if we are survivors.

“Just enquiring about emotional well-being can go a long way,” Osakwe said.

Mrs Carolina Okoh, a c-ivil servant said that the government should  consider building holistic, integrated care for COVID-19 survivors.

Okoh said that such holistic approach would look directly at mental health and offer treatment, referral  and support as necessary.

“COVID-19 is not just an illness that you get and either die from or survive,  long-term effects on mental health exist and might be chronic.

“Just because I did not die does not mean that my life is not completely altered by the experience.

“There have been studies of lungs and heart disease and someone told me also of a brain disease, and remember these are new chronic diseases that are accumulating as a result of the virus spreading, and affecting young people.”

She called on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to speak more about survivors and the need to build the infrastructure that they need to get and stay well physically and mentally. 

Okoh noted that the effects of the social, psychosocial, and medical consequences of the virus was a defining issue for a long time.

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