Mental health support to the healthcare providers involved in COVID-19 responses

On 12 March, 2020, the World Health Organization officially defined the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic. At that time there were approximately 118,000 confirmed cases globally. In response, many countries have undertaken extreme measures to enforce social distancing and combat the spread of the virus. Bangladesh recorded the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on 8 March, 2020; till date the country has seen over 339,000 confirmed cases and 4,759 deaths*. The Government of Bangladesh initiated a countrywide holiday from 26 March to 5 April, and then extended it up to 30 May to limit the spread of COVID-19.


The healthcare providers involved in COVID-19 response initiatives in Bangladesh have been under extreme psychological stress. They face high risk of infection, extreme work pressure, limitation of necessary equipment, institutional isolation and lack of scope to spend time with family and friends. Considering this situation, the government has taken measures to provide mental health support to the these frontline workers, with support from icddr,b.


A pool of psychologists and psychiatrists was formed in collaboration with the Clinical Psychology Department of University of Dhaka and the National Institute of Mental Health. Afterwards, a simple online platformwas developed for online registration and booking slots for online psychological support. In addition, a pool of four volunteers was formed to communicate with the healthcare providers through text messages and phone calls, informing them of the availability of free psychological support from professional clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.


As of 8th September, psychological support has been provided to healthcare workers in five COVID-19 designated hospitals in Dhaka and six District Hospitals outside Dhaka. The team are also working to expand their services to cover 20 District Hospitals. In addition, a webinar was organised and facilitated by the team of professional clinical psychologists with the healthcare providers of 10 District Hospitals to raise awareness on managing stress and mental health and well-being in hospital settings within the context of COVID-19. This mental health support initiative is funded by UNFPA.


Conceptual framework of mental health support to the healthcare providers involved in COVID-19 responses




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*As of 16 September 2020