By Rubendran Sathupathy
The Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at INTI International University organized a symposium on 20th October to better understand how the Covid-19 pandemic affected physical and mental health.
Although the world has transitioned to an endemic stage, Dr. Mohammad Farris Iman Leong bin Abdullah, Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer at Advanced Medical and Dental Institute from Universiti Sains Malaysia, cautioned against becoming complacent.
“The virus is constantly mutating and spreading. Mutation rates are 50% higher than estimates and that’s how new variants such as Omicron develop. The vaccine is designed to target the original coronavirus; boosters are required to protect against mutations,” he said
According to Dr. Farris the main impact of Covid-19 on mental health are an uptick in cases of depression, anxiety, psychological distress, and insomnia.
People who are at risk include those who “live alone, are less educated, and have prior medical histories or diseases.
“This is because they either have poor health, are under stress, or lack knowledge about Covid-19,” he explained.
He added that even post Covid-19 individuals continue to report symptoms such as stress, fear, loneliness, and headaches.
“Some of them relapsed due to lack of therapy and support,” he elaborated. “We have also seen an increase in the number of suicides because of Covid-19 related stigma.”
Dr. Farris suggested some recommendations to help improve mental health like telepsychiatry and campaigns. Telepsychiatry is the use of telecommunications to provide psychiatric assessment and care to patients.
“Psychotherapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also proven to be effective in treating people. Mental health campaigns help to raise awareness about mental health. Close community support needs to be established to maintain relationships.
“Clinics and hospitals should provide primary screening services for mental health issues and the public must be encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention hotlines if they are facing difficulties,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kun Wan Jing, Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic Manager, at GHHS Chinese Medical Centre Malaysia, focused on the role of Chinese medicine in treating Covid-19 symptoms.
“[At] GHHS [we] developed our own ‘Lungshield Remedy’ based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat Covid-19,” she said. “It consists of a blend of herbs to strengthen the immune system and fight infection and is available in liquid and powder form.”
She shared a testimonial from a Stage 4 Covid-19 patient whose condition significantly improved after taking the medicine.
According to Ms. Kun, TCM believes that Covid-19 patients become weak and lethargic due to the body’s Qi (energy) becoming depleted after fighting the infection. Therefore, they need to replenish this lost energy to recover.
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