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Health Ministry issue guidelines for treatment of persons with mental disorders during COVID-19 epidemic

Local News: The Health Ministry has issued guidelines for mental health professionals to follow in the wake of the coronavirus to ensure that treatment continues uninterrupted for person with mental disorders.

This is while ensuring that if they are suspected/confirmed with COVID-19, they are cared for as any other patient.

As per guidelines issued by Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe, persons with disabilities, persons with mental disorders are the most vulnerable in this situation and the measures are recommended to ensure persons with mental health needs get the necessary support.

Hospital have been directed to ensure that psychiatric clinics continue treatment and prescribe medicines wherever possible for two months and in cases where patients request that they need to see the consultant psychiatrists/medical officers to seek help on pressing issues, such persons be provided with the necessary telephone numbers giving instructions.

With regard to inward patients, the consultant/medical officers are required to see them as they routinely do and in case of outreach psychiatric clinics, they are to be conducted every two months with permission to prescribe medicine also for two months.

The patients are also to be provided with the mental health hotline 1926 in case they need any assistance between clinic sessions.

Mental health teams are to liaise with the respective hospital directors through the Regional Directors of Health Services (RDHS) to ensure uninterrupted supply of psychiatric drugs.

Outpatient Department and private practitioners are also to continue treatment by repeating the prescription if patients are already on treatment so that they can obtain medicines from Osu Sala/pharmacies and that this information be disseminated through the MOH of the area.

The guidelines also say that a person with mental disorders with fever should not be transferred to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as it is not a screening /treatment centre for suspected COVID-19 and instead they be started as any other persons suspected/confirmed with the coronavirus.