Mental health- a mandatory prescription for staff for covid-19

Tom Kamaliki | 25th May 2020

Mental health- a mandatory prescription for staff for covid-19

Mental health- a mandatory prescription for staff for covid-19

Tom Kamaliki | 25th May 2020


I have been forced to cite one painful incident in my village way back in August 1990 when a group of women left for a ‘Kuruta ’ visit only for a serious road accident to claim most of them on their way back at the dangerous blackspot of Kabrengó bridge on River Nzoiah in Webuye, Bungoma county, Western part of Kenya. I have used the term ‘Kuruta ’which is a Luhya traditional program where a mother plans with a group of other mothers in the village to visit the home where her daughter got married. Various tribes in Africa have different names for this traditional practice. 


However, the point I wish to drive home is that most of the mothers involved in this accident were my close family friends and I recall my mom was to be part of this team only that she had another important family engagement. It was mourning allover in the village and the only thing that my friends in these affected families needed was mental health support. I remember visiting them more often to encourage them.


As of 22nd May 2020, a day after when I was writing this article, the world has lost 327,821 people through COVID-19. This includes our fellow employees, friends, and relatives. In total, there are 4,995,996 reported cases of infections to WHO. Whether the report on deaths or cases of infections, ourselves as senior managers, our employees, friends, and relatives are equally affected, hence causing untold stress and to some extent depression. Some of our employees have lost close relatives to COVID-19, others have died, others are grappling with it, others do not know whether they have or not, others have lost their jobs, others are on half-pay, others on unpaid leave while the fate of others is hanging in a balance. This state that I call COVID-Reality and COVID-Uncertainty is what is adversely affecting our staff. There is therefore a dire need for employers and senior managers to put in place and implement Mental Health plans to manage the heavy stress that our staff is going through. Such include:


  • Arranging how staff can have access to psycho-social support programs
  • Establishing an effective communication plan that enables staff to access information on how to handle COVID-19
  •  Other than the normal salary, if affordability allows, employers should send staff some pocket money to cushion them from the embers of COVID-19. Some employers have been buying staff foodstuffs, which has really been boosting their morale
  •  Employers taking shared responsibility to work jointly with their staff on matters mental health
  •  Putting in place a Return-to-work formula now that COVID-19 seems to be around to stay. This will heal the stress that employees are going through

On 23rd May 2020 as I was writing this article, our president in Kenya announced that very soon the restrictions imposed on movements due to COVID-19 will be lifted. That it will be the responsibility of every Kenyan citizen to take personal safety responsibility. This is a plan by President Uhuru to reduce the stress levels on Kenyans caused by COVID-19. Please feel free to explore other plans since the list is endless

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