Containing COVID-19 has been a long, drawn-out battle; and until a vaccine can prove its efficacy AND be distributed, the effect of the virus may seem like a life sentence at home. As the present already feels confining to many, it’s all the more daunting to the infected and to at-risk populations. Stress, anxiety, and depression can pile up on top of their fears about their health.
Where self-isolation and quarantine management is in place or still needed, mental health care should be added. Managing the emotional distress that COVID-19 creates — while continuing to try to stop the spread of the virus — is a proactive and vital healthcare delivery approach to consider.
How people respond to stress during this pandemic varies depending on their backgrounds and on available social support. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges providing mental health support to cope with stress during quarantine and self-isolation. “Helping others cope with their stress, such as by providing social support, can also make your community stronger,” CDC stresses.
Widespread general concerns about the pandemic include job insecurity and the effect of COVID-19 on pre-existing conditions, including mental health conditions. These concerns are exacerbated by the stress, anxiety, and depression that is occurring because of virus testing, self-isolation, and quarantine. Community social support services can help. An additional issue is managing the stigma of mental illness, no different in nature than before the pandemic but perhaps more prevalent in the midst of it. So, solutions that include anonymous peer support would be a good step.
Whether as a stand-alone approach or in conjunction with other solutions such as LifeWIRE’s COVID-19 self-management products, support requires direct engagement with infected and at-risk individuals being remotely managed. A mental health symptom module, when added on for emotional health peer support, could enhance the outcomes for an individual using a self-isolation and quarantine program. This can be accomplished while respecting the privacy of the individual, which is critical in mental health. Communication security and individual privacy remain key to patient participation and engagement.
To ensure success, these programs need to be on a secure platform that is ePro-, HIPAA-, and HITrust-compliant, and, even further, must incorporate an additional layer of anonymity.
As an example of how this plays out in the working world, the need for mental health support as part of a self-isolation and quarantine program is a reality in the film industry in dealing with COVID-19. Psychotherapists in Hollywood with patients from the entertainment industry have been advising ways for them “to optimize their mental health during the coronavirus quarantine.”
“There's a lot of anxiety from people around ‘What does this mean in terms of productions being halted?’ and all of that,” Dr. Jenn Mann, a psychotherapist and host of VH1’s Couples Therapy and Family Therapy was quoted in HollywoodReporter.com. Dennis Palumbo, a former screenwriter-turned-psychotherapist, said that most of his clients don't feel like they can go back to work because they are “scared to death and think this may be Armageddon.”
In the filming of Don’t Fear, for example, producers came up with a COVID-19 protocol plan approved by the state of California, which included implementing daily temperature checks and frequent COVID-19 tests for everyone. According to the Washington Post, “studios and networks are confronting how they can safely resume filming, a process that involves bringing together large groups of people in confined spaces for extended periods.” The industry has to contend with the complexities of workplace quarantine, self-isolation, and ongoing symptom tracking while optimizing human resources and economic output and avoiding legal liability.
With all these issues factored in, and cognizant of lessons learned from users and clients, LifeWIRE’s COVID-19 program has incorporated new modules for the workplace, ongoing symptom tracking, and isolation self-management. And with the imminent seasonal flu adding to the complexities of interpreting COVID-19 symptoms and containing the spread of the virus, LifeWIRE’s COVID-19 program includes optional modules for temperature tracking and for more detailed symptom tracking.
Innovative technology such as LifeWIRE never stops exploring and incorporating additional value to solutions it offers. #BeLifeWIREd