“Pandemic fatigue is not only a mental health phenomenon, but also a public health issue. Ensuring mental health and psychosocial support is an essential part of the disease outbreak control.” – Dr. Eliza Cheung, Technical Advisor at the IFRC Psychosocial Centre.
In this episode of Heartbeat of Humanity, technical advisor at the IFRC Psychosocial Centre Sarah Harrison interviews Dr. Eliza Cheung, also a technical advisor at the IFRC Psychosocial Centre, who is based in Hong Kong. This interview explores the concept of pandemic fatigue. Eliza also presents the results of a recently conducted survey by the Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies across the Asia Pacific region.
The survey is based on questionnaires from staff and volunteers who are affiliated with the Asia Pacific Red Cross Red Crescent Region. According to Eliza, 40% of the respondents have felt depressed at since this pandemic began, and 60% of the respondents feel anxious or worried due to the pandemic. This reflects on the importance of caring for staff and volunteers and to be aware of the emotional aspects that gradually develop throughout a pandemic.
“It reminds us of the importance of caring for our carers. Our staff and volunteers have been responding on the frontline since the very first day of this pandemic. It may be a time for us to take a look at whether or not we have the sufficient policies and practices to also support our staff and volunteers, who are so essential in our overall operations,” says Eliza.
When facing pandemic fatigue, Eliza emphasizes the importance of one’s external environment. This includes social support, income and access to health supplies and health information to protect oneself. Community engagement for vulnerable populations and ensuring MHPSS services for staff and volunteers is therefore crucial when coping with the complexities of pandemic fatigue.
The PS Centre has published multiple guides to ensure the care of staff and volunteers in the context of COVID-19. They can be found in the Resource Library, under the Caring for Staff and Volunteers theme.