Fri | Oct 30, 2020

COVID-19 restrictions traumatic for J’cans, says therapist

Published:Thursday | April 2, 2020 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Being a society with a social interaction tradition heavily based on physical contact, renowned western Jamaica-based family therapist Dr Beverly Scott says the sudden change in social norms, brought on by the onset of the COVID-19, will prove very difficult for most Jamaicans.

“We’re physical beings, we like somebody to touch us and to hug us, and now that we can’t hug or touch it’s like we’re not living in a real world anymore,” Scott told The Gleaner.

“This pandemic came upon us suddenly, we weren’t prepared for it, we were just thrown into it, and it’s traumatic for everybody.

“This is not your usual life, and it is not easy for people to move from your regular life to a life that you really don’t understand, one where you’re not sure of what is happening. People are going to have anxiety and panic attacks because there are so many issues intruding on your mind, and children are going to be traumatised because they don’t understand what is happening,” added Scott.

As part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, which has resulted in 44 infections and three deaths up to press time, the authorities have recommended that persons should practise social distancing, keeping at least one metre apart from each other. Handshaking, hugging and other physical forms of contact are also to be avoided.


In seeking to identify other options, Scott suggested that citizens use available technology to keep in touch with each other, and especially to maintain interactions with senior citizens, who are among the most vulnerable groups affected by the respiratory illness.

“I think we’re going to have to use our telephones more. Our relationships can be sustained by just a phone call, and we’re only a phone call away, so I would suggest that we keep in touch with our elderly persons as much as possible, assure them that you love them and that what is happening is in their best interest,” said Scott.

“The stark reality is that this is a pandemic, and none of us is sure if we’re really going to be affected by it directly or if we will survive, so we can’t be comfortable,” added Scott.

More than 787,000 infections and 40,000 deaths have been recorded due to COVID-19 across the globe.