Keeping up mental health during corona crisis

The lockdown in Zimbabwe puts a number of our already vulnerable patients in distress. Our mental and social health (MSH) team is more indispensable than ever. They had to find new ways to support our patients during the corona crisis. Bahati Kasimonje, head of social and mental health, is giving an insight:

Questions around how to access lifesaving treatment, and their food supplies are some of the questions our MSH team is answering a lot these days. Some of the anxieties our patients are experiencing is the fear of the unknown, compromised economic stability and having to live from hand to mouth. Thanks to a card system which identifies them as our patients, they are still able to access treatment, pick up food and medication at Newlands Clinic. Furthermore, our mental and social health team helps with referrals when patients need medical services from other clinics.

Domestic violence and group therapy
A few of our patients have experienced domestic violence. It is crucial for them to get support. Our mental and social health team assists with telephonic counseling to discuss safety plans and provide contacts for shelter during the lockdown.
We had to stop some of our projects. Such as vocational skills training and group therapy. But we cannot abandon these projects. Especially for adolescents who need support and counselling to adhere to their treatment. We are staying in contact with young people especially those at risk of defaulting treatment to support adherence. We are also answering questions and offering support in several WhatsApp groups. We hope to start some of the programs again as of next week.
We are doing everything we can to keep our patients as safe as possible through these rough times.

Supporting our patients socially and mentally is very important. Especially adolescents who are struggling with their HIV infection and the lifetime of therapy that it means, need close support to ensure that their treatment continues uninterrupted. Read more about it here:

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