Mental health experts support doctors, nurses, and patients and their families in Argentina, in order to offer support to health workers that may be overwhelmed by work and stress as a result of the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, a team of mental health professionals from the Mental Health in Critical Incidents Program (PROSAMIC) of the Ministry of Health of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, held meetings in several public hospitals of the City of Buenos Aires and in the province itself, supported by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
PAHO’s Subregional Adviser on Mental Health, Hugo Cohen, explained that the idea is to support public health workers who may be exposed to overwork because of the influenza A pandemic and require counseling on how to work in a crisis.
The group, made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, is headed by Silvia Bentolila. According to Ms. Bentolila, an internal effort was made to maintain and protect the mental health of the health teams and of the relatives of the patients that were hospitalized. This effort also addressed the management of communication, of internal information and for the patient, as well as the anxiety that health workers may experience.
The website of PAHO/WHO Representation in Argentina has public information materials that can be printed for dissemination and four videos: how crises affect people from an emotional standpoint; how to react when someone close to you comes down with influenza A; information on the fear that a new virus arouses; and recommendations for health workers.