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PETALING JAYA: Clinical hypnotherapists have been seeing results from hypnotherapy when used to help frontliners cope with the increasing stress and pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Sri Latha Balakrishnan said frontliners often faced stress due to fears of getting infected or infecting their loved ones at home.

“Lack of personal protective equipment was the biggest problem. At some point, we were running out of protective gear,” she said.

Frontliners also feared making the wrong decisions when deciding if they should resuscitate a patient, she said.

Sri Latha was speaking at an international virtual conference on clinical hypnotherapy, themed “Your Mind Matters”, organised by the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, the Malaysian Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Communications and Hypnosis.

Clinical hypnotherapy is an alternative technique that utilises hypnosis to help in the treatment of symptoms or conditions of mental health issues, trauma, smoking and others.

She said clinical hypnotherapy can help manage stress, fears, anxiety, insomnia, mild to moderate depression, adjustment disorders and also post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The hypnotherapy approach itself builds good rapport between your supervisor and the workers that will help with better working attitude afterwards,” she said.

Sri Latha said that not all patients of such conditions or cases can be medicated or are labelled as having a psychiatrist illness.

She recommended that a psychosocial and mental healthcare unit be set up in every department in hospitals.

Dr Chong Chee Kheong.

Deputy director-general of health (public health) Dr Chong Chee Kheong said Covid-19 had diverted attention away from holistic health, as most resources were needed towards fighting the pandemic.

“There is a need to address the needs of patients requiring non-critical healthcare services, particularly mental healthcare,” he said.

“The current movement control order (MCO) has caused a rise in social isolation, uncertainty, loss of loved ones and jobs, all of which have resulted in anxiety, depression and other emotional challenges.”

Chong said that based on calls made to the government helplines, 93,164 (90.58%) were those requesting psychological and emotional support and counselling.

“Among the issues that needed support are social issues such as job losses, no source of income, family conflict, interpersonal relationship problems, stigma against infections, isolation and lack of access to assistance services during the MCO or EMCO,” he said.

He said clinical hypnotherapy had been recognised in the management of medical illness, particularly in chronic and acute pain, and also in the treatment of psychological and psychosocial issues, such as depression and anxiety.

There was also potential for telehealth or digital health services to increase access and quality of mental healthcare in the country.

“Digital solutions will be called upon again to provide both total solutions and to develop hybrid solutions that offer a blend of face-to-face and online therapy and even app-based treatment,” he said.

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