Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychiatrists president Charles Collier says imposing further restrictions may not help the Government in its goal to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
He said it has been approximately 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and people are growing tired of being cooped up due to restrictions. Therefore, Collier said it is understandable that citizens are looking forward to the expiration of the State of Emergency at the end of the month.
“It is not unreasonable to predict that the lifting of the curfew altogether will result in behaviour that may not be particularly wise from an informed individual safety perspective,” Collier said.
“In fact, the likelihood is the longer you extend, especially the sort of severe restrictions, the less relevant those restrictions appear to be for the population. If you are a parent and you impose a set of consequences on your children for some action, if you apply that same consequence with great frequency, after a while they become numb to it,” he explained.
It will be more useful, he said, for the Government to engage the population more on their concerns and solutions.
He said, “As hard as it may seem, the more time that is spent listening to the population is likely to increase compliance with whatever restrictions or protocols and practices derived upon.”
This, he acknowledged, is no easy task.
Unsurprisingly, Collier said he has noticed that the anxiety among the population is growing, with an “uncertain look” on many faces as jobs have been lost while people’s workloads have increased without matching compensation.
Meanwhile, clinical psychologist Dr Katija Khan noted that pandemic fatigue continues to be a cause for concern. She said it was important that citizens recognise their stress levels and its impact on others around us.
“Sometimes the effect can be personal or psychological, so we are more tense or irritable and are more argumentative. We could even find it harder to stay calm or restless. Sometimes it could even affect our cognitive functioning by finding it difficult to concentrate or focus. It could affect us physically as well, so if you are finding yourself getting more aches and pains like headaches or indigestion, those may all be signs that you are being affected by stress,” Dr Khan said.
She added, “Yes, people have been looking forward to an ease up of the restrictions and yes they have been vigilant for a long time and that has taken its toll on us. In this state of vigilance, we’ve had to make sacrifices for the wellbeing of ourselves and our communities and that has come at a cost so we are continuing to see that stress response in persons.”
While people are eager for relief, she cautioned citizens to be moderate in their actions to ensure they are still safe.