Dialogue The Secretary-General of Mental Health opens the secrets box and reveals weapons of war on Corona


“Fear” was the message we spotted and we moved to reassure the Egyptians

We will face great pressures after the pandemic

Coronas largest patient in Amana hospitals is 74 years old and has been treated and is now in good health

Social Media is the most dangerous tool that spreads fear and terror in the hearts of people

Do not read the news of the epidemic more than one hour per day

The psychological support line receives 1000 and its performance is liked

At the time of the crises, it was always in the back of the Egyptian people. She never abandoned her role fully, in addition to her effective awareness and enlightening role within society, and all this in addition to her primary role that her hospitals play in one of the most important medical specialties and even the most dangerous.

It is the General Secretariat for Mental Health, whose doctors issue many different scenes that Egypt has gone through, from terrorist events, to accidents and natural disasters, where the Secretariat teams were at the forefront of the scene, to provide psychological support to the injured and the families of the victims in various situations.

«Today’s News Portal» I met with the Secretary General of the Mental Health Secretariat, Dr. Menen Abdel Maqsoud, to reveal to us many, many secrets, activities and efforts being made by the Secretariat at the present time, and in light of the fierce confrontation with the new epidemic of Corona virus, I was with this dialogue ..

When did the Mental Health Trust interact with the Corona pandemic?

The Secretariat started to move in mid-March, with the increase in the number of injuries and the need for psychological support, by launching an initiative for community solidarity in supporting patients, and we found that there are many individuals, associations, institutions and universities working in psychological support, so we decided to work together instead of working in isolated islands.

We found that there are 3 segments that need psychological support, the first of which are health workers from the medical team in general, whether doctors, pharmacists, nursing or technicians, and the second segment is the patients and their families, and the families of the deceased, then the rest of the entire community comes in the third segment, and they are not Of patients, but they may suffer from suppression due to the ban, tension or anxiety resulting from the threat of the virus, and within these segments, there are different groups such as children, youth, the elderly and women, and media people work under the pressure of this large amount of news that represents pressure on their mental health, and began to move In examining the needs of each group and the forms of psychological support they need, to start directing efforts in a focused and effective manner.

What is the indicator that prompted the secretariat to move?

Fear .. We monitored the community’s sense of intense threat and fear of the epidemic, especially in the various social media outlets, at a time when working tools and mechanisms, such as seminars, conferences, plays, and others, were curtailed due to social divergence procedures; Which called for reliance on the Internet and social media of all kinds, or through advertisements, whether visual or audio, or road ads.

How do you reach the target groups?

We have a telephone service for physicians only, teams in the 0800-8880700 hotline to address patients, and teams for children and adolescents, as well as ordinary citizens who feel anxious and stressed.

Who are the citizens most affected by the current crisis on the psychological level?

The elderly are at the top of our list of concerns; Especially those over the age of 65, because they are considered the primary caregivers, since children have the ones that take care of them and take care of them and doctors have their hospitals, so the elderly remain the category most in need of attention and care, and besides that there are other groups that we seek to support them psychologically, including journalists and media professionals interested in health affairs And follow the developments of the outbreak of the Corona virus, as they are subjected to psychological and nervous pressure due to their work.

If pre-pandemic statistics indicate that the rate of depression is estimated at 25%, then what is happening now in light of the domestic isolation and quarantine that we all live now?

There are many scientists who talked about the accumulated psychological effects after “Corona”, as it is expected to face many psychological pressures after the pandemic, but these psychological pressures are still unknown until now, and in general, the rates of anxiety and tension are constantly increasing.

What messages are targeted at all groups?

According to the pressures experienced by each group, doctors suffer from the pressures of working for long hours, in addition to spending 14 days in isolation away from the outside world, so their messages always focus on defining how to deal with the multitude of tasks without tension, and how to behave during the isolation period, Mostly, we always recommend devoting a day to communicate with family and friends, listening to music and drawing, and the person infected with the Corona virus is directed to specific paths within the hotline service, to alleviate the stress of anxiety and tension that he is charging from the “Social Media” news, and we always advise that we take the news From its correct sources, and only to see this type of news once a day.

Are there psychiatrists inside the isolation hospitals?

The Secretariat is sending its doctors to several isolation hospitals, to provide psychological support to the medical team and the patients, as well as the presence of psychiatrists in many hospitals, in addition to training psychiatrists in health directorates at the level of the Republic, so that they can perform this task, and in the event that If there are no psychiatrists in the directorate, there is a training program for non-psychiatrists to train them on how to deal with a psychiatric patient.

How does the secretariat deal with those who want to volunteer to work in psychological support?

The Secretariat announced months ago that it had opened the door to apply for volunteer support in mental health to face the pressures of the Corona virus. Indeed, about three thousand people, including doctors and non-doctors, had already advanced, and nearly 300 people had already been trained.

Is there a relationship between the body’s immunity and psychological state?

Of course there is a close correlation between mental health and membership, and there is a lot of research that tried to find a relationship between psychological pressure, lack of sleep, extreme tension, heart disease, pressure, and sugar, in addition to research that links different psychological pressures, and immune deficiency, so we advise all the time about good sleep Reducing stress and reducing follow-up of negative and bad news, and attempting to engage in sports or drawing and reading to maintain psychological stability.

What are the signs and indicators of increased stress?

Thinking about something intensively and continuously, and finding it difficult to stop thinking, for example in the case of the Corona crisis, the person is busy all the time thinking about what he would do if he or one of his close associates fell ill, increased nightmares with intermittent sleep, and stop necessary daily activities such as studying because of thinking In Corona, in this case it is necessary to call the hotline immediately to help control this tension.

How many Secretariat Secretariat hotlines are there?

The hotline team includes about 200 doctors, psychologists, social workers, nursing and staff, working 24 hours a day in many disciplines, and undergoing continuous training, whenever we monitor the need for it.

What is the peak time for receiving hotline calls?

From 6 to 10 pm, all of them are real calls stemming from anxiety and tension, and the description of the patient’s condition and data is conveyed to the assigned doctor who then contacts the patient and performs his role in providing psychological support to the patient, for the science hotline does not conduct regular sessions, and the doctor may see that The patient needs another session, so call back after a week, and in case the patient needs regular sessions, the patient is directed to the hospital.

What is the procedure to take when making sure that one of the Amana Hospital patients is infected with the Corona virus?

The patient will be transferred immediately to the Fatimid Cairo Hospital, which the Ministry of Health has allocated to isolate and treat coronary patients with mental illness.

How to deal with the visits of parents to relatives of the inmates of Amana Hospitals?

The Secretariat decided to prevent all visits to all hospitals, in order to preserve patients from any threat of transmission of corona infection, because the psychological patient has a special nature, explaining that the first case of coronavirus infection among patients occurred after about 3 months after the outbreak of the pandemic, and almost in mid-May, Praise be to God, she recovered from the disease after her treatment at the Fatimid Cairo Hospital, which is a major achievement due to the efforts of the General Secretariat for Mental Health in maintaining patients.

How old was the first patient who was infected with the Coronavirus? Was her symptoms severe?

The patient is over 70 years old, and she was suffering from a high temperature, cough and a thousand in the throat, and I stayed in Fatimid Cairo for about 3 weeks, knowing that the Secretariat decided to isolate the patient’s contacts from the medical teams for 14 days.

Is it true that the rates of infection with the Corona virus among medical staff in psychiatric hospitals were high?

Some injuries occurred, but they are not relatively high. The reason is some of the nursing staff who work in private hospitals. This was taken into consideration by observing sterilization and revealing medical staff in anticipation of any suspicion before dealing with patients.

Do psychiatric medications affect patients’ immunity and make them more vulnerable to infectious diseases?

On the contrary, because most medicines for treating mental illness reduce anxiety and stress, which increases the body’s immunity, but sometimes they conflict with some of the drugs to treat corona, so the Mental Health Secretariat has issued a guide that includes the drugs allowed to be used to treat mental illness patients from the Corona virus, as well Medicines that are dangerous and should not be used, in addition to explaining all interactions between psychiatric drugs and medications to treat patients with corona, and it is delivered to each of the Secretariat doctors working in isolation hospitals.

How do you evaluate the performance of psychological support teams?

The truth is that the psychological support teams affiliated with the Municipality are doing their full role in all crises, accidents and disasters, whether natural or abnormal, which is reflected in the increase in the connection rates of the psychological support line, which amounted to about 1000 calls within one month, after it received 800 calls in the year, It is evidence of the expansion of the service and the desire of citizens to benefit from it, which we consider a major achievement for the General Secretariat for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment.

Has the pressure on outpatient clinics been relieved by corona?

We had many attempts to replace the clinics with “online” services, but all of them stumbled, except for the children’s clinic that works remotely from mid-March, where the doctor talks to the mother or father, and videos can be exchanged via the “WhatsApp” to follow up the situation well, However, there are some obstacles that face this type of services, the most important of which is not having a smartphone, so the alternative was to exchange the treatment for three months instead of a month; To reduce the frequency, the rate in one of the hospital clinics actually decreased to 50 on average instead of about 500. Indeed, we did not close any clinic in the Amanah hospitals in front of the patients, except for one clinic in a hospital in Upper Egypt, after it was discovered that one of the nurses was infected with the Corona virus, and it was opened once Another days later.

What were the measures that were taken in the wards and patient rooms of the Amana hospitals?

We took urgent measures to reduce overcrowding and the occupancy rate was reduced to 50% to create a spacing between the patients’ beds, and currently the Secretariat allowed 75%

Does Cairo Fatimid Hospital receive Corona patients from the Secretariat of Mental Health Hospitals only? Or are there other parties that take their patients there?

Some private hospitals send patients for treatment in Fatimid Cairo, and some patients also attend from some nursing homes, including the Rest of Good Welfare Association for the Care of the Elderly, in addition to the isolation and sorting hospitals of Corona patients referring some cases that suffer from mental illnesses.

Do you think that the media plays an important role in the Corona crisis?

The truth is that we seek to provide training courses for media professionals to help provide media content capable of serving the efforts of the state in facing various crises, especially after an activist’s suicide.

What measures has the Secretariat taken in its hospitals to protect inmates from Corona infection?

The Secretariat has continuously committed to cleansing clinics and internal departments, separating patients, preventing visits, and places have been set aside to isolate suspected cases until tests are done and results are confirmed.

Are there any tips you can give to adjust your sleep habits during the Covid 19 pandemic?

Insomnia is a normal reaction to stress, and this makes maintaining the number of hours of sleep more important, because getting enough sleep helps maintain mental and physical health, boost the immune system, improves mood, and keeps mindful; So keep calm and not bring fear when going to sleep.

And if a person feels a tendency to lie down, he should resist as much as possible, because waking up and sleeping at the same time every day helps to maintain a good sleep rhythm, avoiding naps during the day or doing things in bed such as checking the phone, watching TV, eating or learning online Or do exam reviews or search for a job, and the bed should only be made to sleep.

Likewise, suspicion and suspicion may cause excessive fears. The time to verify news and social media, especially those that are disturbing, must be determined, and allow 20 minutes during the day to jot down your concerns and solve problems.

Set aside time for inhale and exhale, another to communicate with friends remotely, and time to exercise daily, preferably outside if possible while maintaining a distance of 2 meters between you and others.

The slight exposure to sunlight daily helps to control the rhythm of the day.


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