How to be prepared during emergencies?

Positive Coping Mechanism

During difficult times and a pandemic like this, people become stressed and overwhelmed by the situations and measures taken to control the outbreak such as lockdowns, staying at home, economic instability, fear of being sick and fear of losing loved ones. Thus, you need to know how to plan, make decisions in advance of an illness, know how to protect and support children and those under your care, to prepare and find ways to cope with the stress.

Ways to cope with the stress

  • Be informed
    • Get correct and updated information on the disease and situation from trusted source. 
  • Communicate;
    • With neighbors, loved ones to share on information and daily life coping mechanisms to manage stress. We need to learn how to help and be there for each other in difficult times such as these.
  • Prevent
    • Taking the prevention methods routinely, even when you are staying home, should be your habit.
  • Watch for symptoms
    • Know what the common symptoms are, routinely asses your health and know what to do if you develop the symptoms.
  • Stay at home
  • Be prudent and prepared to allocate money, food and list of emergency supplies

Psycho social support for elderly

  • Older people especially with cognitive decline become more anxious, angry and stressed.

    What you need to do if you are caring for the elderly

    • Provide emotional support through informal network
    • Give simple and clear facts
    • Repeat information when necessary
    • Provide them with equipments to practice preventive measures
    • Provide uninterrupted access to essential medicine if they have an underlying disease
    • Provide truthful information on the progression of the disease, risk factors, treatment and chance of recovery
    • Use easily accessible and trusted Medias that they can utilize such as phones, public Medias, TV and radios
    • When giving instructions make it clear, concise, respectful and with patience
    • Provide simple physical exercise to perform at home to maintain mobility and reduce boredom and stress

Psycho social support for disabled

Disabled people might face environmental, institutional and attitudinal barriers. These barriers can lead to additional stress to people with disabilities and those that care for them.

  • Messages should be made accessible and appropriate
  • Plans must be made to ensure continued support for people with disabilities who need care and support in isolation and quarantine
  • People with disabilities and their caregivers should be included in all stages of the outbreak response.
  • Partnering with community leaders and associations for disabled should be strengthened

How COVID-19 can exacerbate risks of violence for women

  • Stress, the disruption of social and protective networks, and decreased access to services all can exacerbate the risk of violence for women.
  • As distancing measures are put in place and people are encouraged to stay at home, the risk of intimate partner violence is likely to increase. For example: The likelihood that women in an abusive relationship and their children will be exposed to violence is dramatically increased, as family members spend more time in close contact and families cope with additional stress and potential economic or job losses.
    • Women may have less contact with family and friends who may provide support and protection from violence.
    • Women bear the brunt of increased care work during this pandemic. School closures further exacerbate this burden and place more stress on them.
    • The disruption of livelihoods and ability to earn a living, including for women (many of whom are informal wage workers), will decrease access to basic needs and services, increasing stress on families, with the potential to exacerbate conflicts and violence. As resources become more scarce, women may be at greater risk for experiencing economic abuse.
    • Perpetrators of abuse may use restrictions due to COVID-19 to exercise power and control over their partners to further reduce access to services, help and psychosocial support from both formal and informal networks.
    • Perpetrators may also restrict access to necessary items such as soap and hand sanitizer.
    • Perpetrators may exert control by spreading misinformation about the disease and stigmatize partners.
      • Access to vital sexual and reproductive health services, including for women subjected to violence, will likely become more limited.
      • Other services, such as hotlines, crisis centers, shelters, legal aid, and protection services may also be scaled back, further reducing access to the few sources of help that women in abusive relationships might have.

What can be done to address VAW during the COVID-19 response?

While recognizing that COVID-19 has placed an immense burden on health systems including frontline health workers, there are things that can help mitigate the impacts of violence on women & children during this pandemic.

Psycho social support for children

Children may feel anxious, withdrawing, angry and agitated having night mares, bed wetting and frequent mood change. Children’s behaviors usually depend on adult’s response in their lives. Adults should manage their emotions and remain calm

  • Encourage and increase sensitive and caring environment
  • Listen to children’s concerns
  • Speak kindly and reassure them
  • Make opportunities for children to play and relax with adult supervision
  • If separated from care givers ensure the child is provided with care with next of keen
  • Demonstrate how they can stay safe like showing them how to wash their hands
  • Make fun games about how to prevent the virus
  • Avoid speculating rumors and unverified information in front of children
  • Provide with drawing materials

Psycho social support for people in quarantine/ isolation

  • Physical exercise such as stretching
  • Relaxation exercises such as breathing exercise
  • Reading books and magazines
  • Reduce the time spent looking at fearful images on TV
  • Reduce time listening to rumors
  • Search information from reliable sources 
  • Reduce time looking for information (1-2 times per day, rather than every hour)

For people responding at front line

  • Feeling stressed is quite normal in the current situation.
  • Workers may feel that they are not doing a good enough job, that there is a high demand on them. Stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak, even if you feel that way.
  • Take care of your basic needs and employ helpful coping strategies- ensure rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat sufficient and healthy food, engage in physical activity, and stay in contact with family and friends.
  • Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental, social and physical wellbeing.
  • If possible, stay connected with your loved ones through digital methods as one way to maintain contact.
  • Turn to your colleagues, your manager or other trusted persons for social support- your colleagues may be having similar experiences to yours.
  • If your stress worsens and you feel overwhelmed, you are not to blame. Everyone experiences stress and copes with it differently.


  • Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Addis Ababa
  • Swaziland street, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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  • Mail : ephieoc@gmail.com
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