Negative Stigma, Stress Adding to High COVID-19 Mortality Rate



Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Ministry of Health Director for Prevention and Handling of Mental Health and Substance Problems, Fidiansjah, revealed that negative stigma or labeling from certain members of the public has contributed to the high mortality rate of health care workers handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In evidence, Fidiansjah, pointed to the case of a nurse who was stigmatized and treated inappropriately, prior to passing away from being exposed to COVID-19 and her funeral being rejected by the local community.

    “Stigma needs to be looked at in its entirety, as it is not just attitude or behavior towards a situation that makes it negative. Instead, the stigma will also cause marginalization and worsen (their) health status. This is what needs to be understood; stigma contributes to the high mortality rate," explained Fidiansjah.  

    Although the virus attacks the body physically, COVID-19 also impacts mental health. This complicates the situation of public stigma even more, as people who have not been infected and those who have may both feel their mental conditions worsening; in turn, affecting their physical conditions. 

    Sports medicine specialist Zaini K. Saragih explained that stress can negatively impact a person's immune system as the supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to all organs of the body will be affected.

    Psychological stress is similar to conditions of strenuous exercise, as the condition puts pressure on the blood vessels to pump blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the muscles of the body; starving other organs of the body from receiving the necessary oxygen and nutrition intake.

    If psychological stress continues over the course of a number of days, a person’s immune system will continue to worsen.

    As such, especially during the pandemic, it is paramount for people to avoid stress, and instead, focus on maintaining and fostering a positive spirit to help relax the body and maintain a healthy immune system.

    In an effort to cater to the public’s mental health, the Ministry of Health had previously set up a hotline extension for mental health services to facilitate those who are looking for consultation during the COVID-19 pandemic, through the hotline 119 extension 8.

    Alternatively, the public can also administer self-check mental health examinations accessible from the Indonesian Mental Health Specialist Doctors Association (PDSKJI) official website,

    ANTARA | Translator: DIO SUHENDA (Intern)