(Hony) Brig. Dr. Arvind Lal, Executive Chairman, Dr. Lal PathLabs Ltd.
Speaks about early signs of stress, role of employers in mental health of employees and more
The video is a detailed account of a conversation with him. Below is an excerpt…
How to cope with stress the frontline workers are facing?
We choose this profession because being caring and serving others-beyond limits comes very naturally to us. Current pandemic has raised a question: What to do when healers need healing? In order to deal with mental health crisis, please look out for these signs so that you are able to seek timely health. Symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping feelings of guilt, burnout and depression are a sign that you should seek professional help.
These feelings are often induced by scarcity of essential resources such as testing kits, oxygen, meds, beds, human resources, wherein a doctor has to decide who lives and who dies.
Leaders should provide resources for distressed workers, psychological support, timely help, and make their employees feel safe, appreciated.
What are some early warning signs for mental health in frontline workers?
- Overreacting, agitation, helplessness, gloom and doom, difficult to relax, losing interest in things you normally like to do, worthless, fear without trigger
- Physical signs: dryness in mouth, breathing difficulty in absence of any physical exertion, trembling of hands, unexplained aches in body
How can the community as a whole can deal with such crisis?
Sharing is very important. Share with somebody, for example confide in a trusted colleague or family member. Seek medical support if you experience extreme distress, don’t hesitate. Pace yourself, don’t push yourself unnecessarily. Understand your tasks as a medical professional and act accordingly. Meditation is also a means. Outdoor exercises are also extremely important such as aerobic exercise, which includes walking, running, skipping and swimming. Anxiety levels will fall if all of the above are practiced on a daily basis.
What efforts are hospitals and labs putting to safeguard the frontliners?
Zero breach of safety measures such as PPE kits, masks and gloves. Vaccination is also another way in which the physical safety of the health care workers can be insured.
We don’t talk about mental health in India. Lot of stigma attached is to it which needs to change and employers need to take initiative by providing accessible mental health resources to their workers. HR department across industries should see this as an opportunity to help people access mental health resources and professional help.
How to deal with Zoom fatigue?
- Limit daily number of meetings
- Switching to calls instead of texting or zoom meetings
- Deciding the agenda and limit duration of call; reduce the screen time
- Zoom call etiquettes also need to be instituted so that people have their personal space and time
Any improvements expected in India’s health infrastructure, to help alleviate the load of frontline workers?
We have scaled up rapidly in terms of covid testing, hospital beds, medicines, ventilators, vaccines and medical oxygen. We tend to be reactive than proactive. We need to plan ahead in order to deal with the third wave. Some states have made exceptional efforts by employing final year students, AYUSH doctors in order to combat covid.
How can testing system be made robust so that it can be accessed by everyone?
About 60% labs are in private sector, so the role of private sector will be integral in order to achieve this. ICMAR has done a remarkable job of consolidating all labs under one portal. Private sector along with the cooperation of the government should collaborate more often and discuss the problem and solutions. This partnership will enable people to access testing facilities in a better manner.
How to stay safe from medical violence?
Violence against the medical community is a pre-covid problem. A number of solutions have been put forward but not implemented or taken into consideration. Police protection can be provided to the health care workers by constituting a helpline number. Rapid Action Force should also be formed to help the cause, but the government has not acted on this.
How to deal with trauma of not saving patients?
Doctors are adept to such circumstances because of their years of experience. Given your best, that is making all resources, care and services available to patient should be a priority. Rest is not under our control. Medical professionals should do everything in their capacity to help the patients and hope for the best.