Panic, Fear, Death and COVID-19

This week, in clinic, I have seen a dramatic escalation in client anxiety relating to COVID-19 (Corona-virus). No surprise, really. We have seen panic buying, supermarkets selfishly raided, with no care for fellow community members. Worse still, people trying to profit from the desperate needs of others. Social media posts spreading misinformation and catastrophising. This is not helpful. Misinformation and catastrophising add to the confusion, anxiety and fear.

Most importantly, our most vulnerable are children, risk to them is not from COVID-19 but psychological trauma. As adults we must act to maintain a sense of safety for them in this world.

Members of the media need to reflect on their actions and lack of strategic thinking, ethics and professionalism. We have been flooded with sensationalist reporting and disturbing images. Even worse, stories about COVID-19 are accompanied by background music normally used for terrifying scenes in horror movies. One television item even used the sound of a rapid heart beat to subliminally induce anxiety in listeners.

What we need from government, media and every individual in our community is leadership. We need to work within our circle of influence to promote practical information, avoid scaremongering and take responsibility to minimise the spread and impact of COVID-19.

As with all challenges, this is an opportunity. Critical incidents can break us or makes us. We can regress to primitive coping, based on selfishness, greed, hoarding, fighting and catastrophising or step up and evolve. Evolving requires us to see this challenge as an opportunity to understand, empathise, make a positive contribution, problem solve and adapt. We can all play a role to minimise the spread and impact of COVID-19 as well as the economic consequences on businesses, families and individuals.

We need to keep COVID-19 in perspective, we are not going to die, we just need to act to best protect those in our community vulnerable to any serious infection and minimise the load on our health system.

The next article will review practical steps that we can all implement as leaders.

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