After two months of living under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), we’ve become accustomed to washing our hands often, wearing a face mask, practicing proper social distancing, and working from home to help flatten the COVID 19 curve. As we prepare ourselves for the “new normal,” wherein these measures are the norm, frontliners from different fields are still risking their lives outside the comforts of home to care for patients and to make sure we still have access to essential goods and services.
Being a frontliner is no easy feat – you don’t just risk your physical health, you’re prone to experiencing emotional and mental stress as well. In an article published by CNN Philippines, a doctor related how medical personnel are clocking in more than 12 hours of work and how some have not seen their families for over a month. Seeing firsthand the effects of the virus can take its toll on frontliners and may cause stress, anxiety, and depression.
Sheila Tan, a licensed Meta-Coach, Team Coach, NLP Trainer, and Neuro-
Semantics Trainer, explains that frontliners experience a variety of things at different levels of intensity. “They could be going through the fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus and infecting other people,” she says. Coach Sheila also shares that aside from worrying about getting sick, medical and service personnel also think about the pressure of maintaining a sanitized environment, making sure their families have enough resources, and the emotional turmoil they go through on a daily basis such as feeling lonely and isolated.
Medical and service personnel need all the support to be able to stay mentally fit at this difficult time. “It is best to ensure that they are able to connect with their loved ones as much as they can through phone and video calls. Being able to connect with the people they work with to build a support system can help them cope,” shares Coach Sheila. Having a support system provides frontliners with an avenue where they can talk about their difficulties and share experiences. A safe space, even if it’s far from home, can have therapeutic effects and help them go through each day. Aside from ensuring these needs are met, Century Properties puts the safety of its service champions first by housing them near the property where they report to. Residents and homeowners have also showed gratitude to the dedication of the concierge, security, housekeeping, and property management teams by sending in donations and heartwarming letters.
In their free time, frontliners can also spend time together to enjoy snacks and refreshments while observing proper physical distancing as according to Coach Sheila, this can make them “feel a sense of community.” It is equally important that they get enough sleep, eat well, and stay connected to loved ones to be able to stay mentally healthy.
In an advisory released last March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) also shared these reminders to help frontliners:
- Recognize that it’s normal to feel pressured and stressed during this time. According to WHO, “stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak.”
- Take care of yourself by eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough rest. You are the one who knows your body well – de-stress and do not hesitate to keep yourself psychologically well.
- Your colleagues can be a source of strength at this time. Reach out to those you trust and feel free to open up to them.
- For team leaders and managers, it’s important that you make workers feel valued and heard. See to it that their needs are attended to.
- Should you need mental health and psychosocial support services, don’t hesitate to inform your manager.
Here are numbers you can call if you’re looking for consultations:
National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline: (0917) 899-8727
Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc: (0917) 565-2036
UP Diliman Psychological Services: (0906) 374-3466
Prescription Psychiatrists: (0977) 795-3097
Coach Sheila Tan holds a diploma in Self-Actualization under the International Society of Neuro-Semantics. An executive and relationship coach, she does consultancy for family businesses, L&D and HR under Altius Coaching and Consulting. Coach Sheila facilitates trainings in leadership, sales, coaching, and mental health. She also used to be the Sales Capability Leader for Procter and Gamble Philippines. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Instagram: @upwithsheila and @altius.coaching