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How to Reduce Covid-19 Stigma

Wong Shu Lee  

|

  October 15, 2020

 

Just when we thought everything was under control, Covid-19 cases spike again. Currently, some states and districts are placed under Conditional Movement Control Order again. Today, we’re not going to talk about how to avoid spreading the disease, however, to discuss the psychological impact caused by Covid-19. 

 

 

According to a feature film by R.AGE, Covid-19 patients were stressed, anxious, worried, and afraid when they first diagnosed with the disease.

 

“I just did not want to die.”

 

“Will I still be alive tomorrow?”

 

“I felt so sad because my son got the virus from me.”

 

Some of the expressions that the patients had mentioned in the video clearly shows that Covid-19 left an emotional fear among people in general.

 

In fact, study found that more than half of people who received hospital treatment for Covid-19 were suffering from a psychiatric disorder a month later. According to the study, 55 per cent from a total of 402 patients surveyed suffered from at least one psychiatric disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

Some of the patients even suffered from insomnia, a sleeping disorder, and had obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms or widely known as OCD. 

One of the main reasons that lead to PTSD among Covid-19 patients is the society’s stigma towards Covid-19 patients and their families. 

 

Covid-19 Stigma

 

It is understandable that people are frightened and concerned about the pandemic. But as the rumours and misinformation that are running rampant, stereotypes quickly arise about people who have or may have the disease. These stereotypes are as harmful as the virus itself to the society. 

For example, healthcare workers and their families are rejected by restaurants. Besides, people who experienced stigma related to covid-19 also include those who returned from travel, those who were released from quarantine and people with the disease and their family and friends. 

This kind of blaming and shaming can be hurtful and dangerous. It makes people targets for misplaced anger and hostility.  It also creates hardships and divisions that hamper the response to the pandemic. 

People who are experiencing stigma may be excluded in social situations, denied by job and educational opportunities, denied access to adequate housing and health care, and even be targets of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. 

 

How to Reduce Covid-19 Stigma

 

Education is one way to fight stigma. It helps dispel harmful stereotypes. You can help reduce stigma by: 

 

  • Getting the facts about COVID-19 from reputable sources such as the KKM and MOH. Share them with your family and friends. 
  • Speaking up if you hear or see inaccurate statements about COVID-19 and certain people or groups.
  • Reaching out to people who may feel stigmatized. Ask how you can help. Listen to them and show that you understand and support them. 
  • Showing support for health care workers and others who are caring for people with COVID-19. Thank them for their work and share positive messages on social media.
  • Showing support for and thanking all who continue their essential jobs to help you and your community, such as police officers, bus drivers, grocery store clerks, food bank workers and delivery people.

 

We are in this together. To effectively stop the virus from spreading, we must replace fears and rumours with facts, proper action and a show of support for one another. 

 

#kitajagakita #virusesdontdiscriminate 

 

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