It is very difficult to “un-scare” people, and fear can be as contagious as any disease. Right now, the monkeypox outbreak is bad and getting worse. It represents an unprecedented spread of this disease. At last count, the U.S. has identified 6,617 confirmed monkeypox cases, and at least 85 other countries have identified 26,000 more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared monkeypox a Global Health Emergency, and now Health and Human Services (HHS) has declared it a national Public Health Emergency in the U.S., reflecting the seriousness and urgency of the situation. Researchers estimate that it might take a year or more to control this outbreak. By then, the virus is likely to have infected hundreds of thousands of people. While the virus itself is self-limiting, it’s potential to cause fear and anxiety is not.
All public health emergencies are simultaneously behavioral health emergencies. Fear and anxiety about another novel virus is now surfacing in the form of anger and stigma, so much so that the WHO is considering changing the name of the virus, which they see as “discriminatory and stigmatizing.” Recent news stories have reported that some healthcare workers and lab techs have even refused to draw blood for patients suspected of having monkeypox. Not only is stigma corrosive to communities and organizations, it also prevents people from getting the testing and treatment necessary to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Anyone can get monkeypox, and everyone can be affected by the emotional impact of a new disease outbreak. Stigma directed at individuals and groups can threaten morale and cohesion, as well as impact performance. Especially at a time when organizations are struggling to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic and get employees back to work, the need to contain the fear and stigma associated with monkeypox could not be more important.
Our presenter, Steve Crimando, MA, CTM, DRCC is a clinician and educator who has been on the front lines of most of the major public health emergencies of the past 30 years. From the Amerithrax bioterrorism case to ebola, zika, and Covid-19, he has provided training and consultation to state and federal health and emergency management agencies, as well as to United Nations crisis response teams.
Join us on Thursday, August 11 from 1:00-2:00 PM ET, when we discuss the emotional challenges of dealing with the monkeypox outbreak, as well as strategies and techniques for managing fear and reducing stigma in the workplace and in the community. The program will be recorded for participants who are unable to attend the live broadcast.