Honduras: Providing psychosocial support to COVID-19 patients

A patient uses the mental health kit at the COVID-19 care center in Tegucigalpa.
Honduras 2020 © MSF
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Since June 13, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has cared for 134 patients with mild to severe COVID-19 symptoms at the Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). More than 100 of those patients have now been discharged. The health center supports the Tegucigalpa hospital system by providing comprehensive medical care, including psychosocial care, for patients and their families.

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As of September 14, Honduras had reported 67,789 cases of COVID-19, with approximately 27 percent of these in the capital, Tegucigalpa. This concentration of cases in Tegucigalpa has caused the city’s hospital system to collapse at times during the pandemic.

"The added value of MSF in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is the medical care we give and our experience in managing emergencies," says Jose Antonio Silva, MSF project coordinator for Tegucigalpa. "For this reason we have been able to adapt to the context of the city.”

Images of the MSF psychosocial support in Honduras
A patient holds an activity book given to them by the MSF psychosocial care team.
Honduras 2020 © MSF

The psychosocial care team, made up of psychologists and health promoters, gives each patient an activity book when they are admitted, in which they can draw, paint, and read, as a tool for recreational activity and for mental health care. This activity goes hand in hand with psychological care, which is carried out by phone and in person.

“Reading helped me a lot during my time here. It helped me not to think about the disease and it was something very positive," Erenia, a patient at the COVID-19 center, said when she was discharged.

Images of the MSF psychosocial support in Honduras
During their stay in the COVID-19 care center, patients write motivational messages for themselves and the health promotion team. This note says: Me siento muy bien, solo sera un mal recuerdo [I feel very good, it will just be a bad memory].
Honduras 2020 © MSF

"As MSF, we highlight the mental health care that is given to patients, family members and the health personnel themselves, since it is a component that seeks to give emotional support to all these people," said Silva. 

"MSF's kind and enthusiastic care to each patient helps us to see ahead into the future and be able to recover physically," said Francisco, another patient who was discharged from the COVID-19 center. "And I want to thank the mental health team for their kindness and listening time, it helps us to have a better and speedy recovery."

Images of the MSF psychosocial support in Honduras
An MSF patient is given a home isolation mental health kit after being discharged from the COVID-19 care center in Tegucigalpa.
Honduras 2020 © MSF

To complete the psychosocial care process and treatment, when they are discharged, each patient is asked to leave a message to the health professionals. They also receive a kit with psychosocial support activities to take home, which has medical guidance for patients in recovery, recommendations for mental health care, information on ways to protects themselves and their families from COVID-19, and leisure activities.

Images of the MSF psychosocial support in Honduras
After being discharged, a patient leaves an encouraging note for the medical staff.
Honduras 2020 © MSF

The patients inside the COVID-19 center received quality medical care, access to video calls to speak with their families, and psychosocial care for patients and their families in order to alleviate the pain caused by this disease.