Suddenly finding themselves unprepared for a new era, millions stuck at home or in imminent danger of infection have also been forced to suffer the mental distress of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the public tries to adapt to a new form of life since Turkey’s normalization process in June, the risk from the disease prevails, as do general fears. To help the public’s anxiety, fears and negative feelings stemming from isolation and uncertainty, the Health Ministry has launched another battle in the frontline against the virus.
In all 81 provinces, the government launched psycho-social support programs, starting from March 30, a few weeks after the first cases were reported in the country. These include hotlines to address the issues such as changing daily habits, changing emotions like overwhelming concern, anger, fear and desperation stemming from the pandemic and chronic mental disorders. Hotlines serve both affected citizens and their families. Some 2,283 staff, from psychiatry experts to social service workers, work at hotlines.
The Health Ministry has also prepared psychiatric guides for health care workers going through long shifts under the risk of infection, as well as those placed in quarantine at home or in dormitories.
In Istanbul, the country’s most populated city, which usually dominates the list of cities with the highest number of patients, the local health authority has launched a Coronavirus Online Mental Support Program (KORDEP).