The University of Technology (UTech) College of Health Sciences, through its Caregivers’ Symposium, is providing vital mental health and wellness support to the island’s network of caregivers, as they navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) environment.
Now in its second year, the two-day virtual symposium is being held on September 10 and 17, under the theme ‘Supporting and Strengthening the Caregivers’ role in a COVID-19 pandemic’.
The opening session held on Thursday (September 10), featured presentations from experts in the fields of Psychiatry, Nursing, and Pharmacology, covering a range of topics, including ‘Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism in the COVID-19 Era’; ‘Five Ways to Improve your Mental Health as a Caregiver in COVID-19’, and ‘Caring for Caregivers in Crisis – Whose Responsibility is it?’.
The term ‘Caregiver’ is divided into two categories – the formal caregiver (clinicians and trained individuals) who receives compensation to provide intermittent or continuous in-home services. The second category – the informal caregiver – is an individual who has not received formal training and cares for ailing family members or friends. This category of caregiver does not typically receive compensation.
As caregivers are considered part of the army of front-line workers who provide essential services, Associate Professor and Coordinator, Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship, College of Health Sciences, Dr. Andrea Pusey-Murray, said the event is geared towards educating the caregivers on the various coping strategies that they can utilise.
“Caregivers have been told repeatedly how to keep those they care for safe during this time – social distancing, regular washing of hands, cleaning household surfaces, and so on. But no one is telling caregivers how to care for themselves,” she noted.
“Your hours of unpaid labour do not go unnoticed. Your efforts and sacrifices are seen. Know that you are not only essential during a pandemic but always, and that the work you do is invaluable. The College of Health Sciences, University of Technology, takes pride in supporting caregivers as they care for loved ones,” Dr. Pusey-Murray said.
Local support services and resources for caregivers are provided by the School of Pharmacy, Caribbean School of Nursing and School of Allied Health and Wellness, UTech, Jamaica; Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network; the Jamaican Psychological Society; Choose Life International, and Caribbean Institute of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, University of the West Indies (UWI).