“This is the end. What should we do?”

How consultants of psychological hotline support people during the quarantine 

Together with pandemic of the COVID-19 panic is spreading all over the world. Anxiety, helplessness, despair, irritation – consultants of the municipal psychological hotline of Zaporizhzhia help people to cope with these and variety of others negative feelings. Each month they receive about 350 calls and provide assistance to the citizens in most difficult situations of their lives. The chief of the service Oksana Semenenko tells us what can help us to be calm during the crisis and how workers themselves stay positive.

Oksana Semenenko, chief of the service municipal psychological hotline of Zaporizhzhia

General themes of the calls are personal and interpersonal conflicts, violence, problems connected with unemployment,addictions. During the quarantine the majority of cases are about interpersonal conflicts. Couples and families with children make the biggest part of the calls. People stay at home; they have to communicate all the time and get irritated with each other. Parents complain that children have got unmanageable, reject any study and they ask for advice.

How quarantine has influenced the most vulnerable groups?

– There are calls from the families with members with addictions. They are also at home all the time. There is no place and actually nothing to sell, they have no money and still need drugs. The hospitals also cannot take them because of the quarantine regulations. Families with members who have psychiatric disorders also meet great difficulties now. In such situations we can’t advice anything efficient but still we can listen and support them in such a way. Usually people try to hide these facts from their friends, but they can talk about the problem with us without fear of being judged.

– How the elderly people be consoled? They are advised even not to leave their homes…

– The elderly, especially those who live separately, are really in the risk zone. They are always thinking about the virus. Who are usually their companions? Pets or TV. They are watching news and think: “Oh my God! I lived through the war and now I see this”. They are fainting, feeling heart ache and blood pressure leaping. They are sure nobody will come to help them, even if they feel bad. So psychological support is essential. My family also lives in multi-storied building, and we know elderly, who stay at home. We ask if they need some food, when we go shopping, and buy for them, we take their rubbish downstairs to the bin. This is just humaneness. We try to say hello even from balcony, ask how they feel, whether they need anything.

What do they do not need for sure?

– Extra information I would say. A piece of advice – provide them with brief reliable information from official sources.  We provide only official data; how many get ill and that’s all. We try change the focus of their attention and ask them about their health or about weather, what are their plans or what are they doing at home, who could help them, about things which can make them happier – what nice things have happened during the day. Humor can save the situation. My husband, daughter and my grandma are waiting for me at home. My granny is “war child”, she loses her sight and hearing, and she was ill on bronchitis not so long ago. At home we are in contact all the time, even though she has her separate bedroom. She washes hand and uses antiseptics. She asked me: “Do I have to disinfect my cat’s paws as she was walking in the balcony?”. I joked in response: “No, as she was not leaving the house as you both are keeping your self-isolation regime”.

– Unlike many others you and your colleagues continue working during the quarantine. How the introduced restrictions influenced your work?

– From the very start it was pretty difficult to get to the job. Now our consultants worry more about their families than about themselves, as they are using public transport or have urgent visits to the families. They also try not to put at risk their relatives, so they avoid personal communication and leave purchases by the door. Despite the anxiety we need, as always, endure communication with clients as it can be accompanied with manipulation or threats. We communicate, exchange information and joke with colleagues. We have such a need and opportunity – to go to work and to help people.

You can get qualified help from a psychologist by phone:

228-15-84

066-313-15-84

067-515-15-84

073-515-15-84

For online consultations write:

Skype: Dovira1584

Facebook: Hotline

Viber / WhatsApp / Telegram: 067-515-15-84

 

This series of publications is devoted to the people whose duty is to help others. We express our gratitude and support to the specialists whom we may not know in person but whose help we count on in difficult moments of our lives.  

Anastasiia Glevakha

The publication is created in frame of the project “Heroes of our days”, which is implemented by Charity Foundation “Child’s Smile” under the support of USAID.