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MSF launches new online mental health tool during COVID-19 pandemic

The tool provides practical solutions and advice to help people cope with their emotions during the pandemic, and is free to use via the MSF website 

It’s normal to experience a range of emotions during an extreme event such as a pandemic

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has launched an online advice tool, providing much needed mental health support to people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisation, which provides medical care and humanitarian assistance, including to those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, is also looking to provide mental health support to people during the pandemic. The tool will be available for as long as it is needed.

Through the service, Nancy Nyambura, a psychologist working for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders in East Africa, provides practical solutions and advice to help people to deal with the range of emotions that they may experience during the pandemic including stress, fear, anxiety, loneliness and sadness. She also provides advice to people struggling with the reality of working from home. 

'It’s normal to experience a range of emotions during an extreme event such as a pandemic,’ says Nancy. ‘Not only do people have to deal with these feelings, they have to cope with the impacts of the restrictions that are in place to try to limit the spread of the disease. This adds an additional layer of complexity and also means people have to find new coping mechanisms. We wanted to help with that.’

On MSF's website, people can select the emotion they are experiencing and receive tailored advice to address that particular concern. Through sharing people’s stories and explaining their situations, Nancy outlines why people experience challenging emotions during an event such as a pandemic and the steps that they can take to try to deal with them in a positive way.

‘Two of the major feelings people may feel during a pandemic are sadness and fear - especially if they have lost loved ones, or are worried about doing so,’ said Nancy. ‘By reading through other people’s stories and listening to the advice, we hope people will feel that they are not alone, and we hope that the practical solutions we offer will help them to deal with their feelings.’

As well as providing mental health support during the pandemic, MSF is adapting its projects in more than 70 countries around the world, as well as launching new programmes to specifically target the disease in hotspot countries.

In all its projects, MSF is boosting infection prevention and control as well as putting in place triage and screening to keep patients and health workers safe.  Teams from the organisation are also providing health promotion activities, setting up isolation facilities and supporting Ministry of Health facilities to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.  

COVID-19 Coronavirus

Most of the world's countries have reported cases of coronavirus disease COVID-19 and MSF teams in over 70 countries are now racing to respond to the pandemic.  

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