Health experts around the globe continue to express their concerns regarding COVID-19 and increased rates of mental health complications. However, there’s one group in particular that many are worried about – healthcare workers.
As stated by the World Health Organization, in addition to increased levels of fear, many healthcare workers may experience avoidance by their family or community. This can make a challenging situation even more difficult.
If you are a healthcare worker, here’s what you need to know — and more importantly, what you can do to protect your mental health.
TIME Magazine recently published a thought-provoking article, highlighting the experiences of healthcare workers surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although these individuals are used to working in high-stress situations, treating severely ill patients, COVID-19 is unlike anything these workers have experienced before.
Not only are they experiencing a whole new realm at work, but they are also incredibly fearful for their own health and the health of their immediate family members.
Related: Guidance for First Responders Combatting the COVID Pandemic
Since the challenges and implications surrounding COVID-19 continue to unfold, it will be years until we truly understand the mental health toll of this pandemic, but early data is providing a bleak glimpse.
A recent study focused on 1,257 healthcare workers in China who were working with COVID-19 patients. What they found was that 50.4 percent showcased symptoms of depression, 44.6 percent experienced symptoms of anxiety, 35 percent had insomnia, and 71.5 percent reported overall feelings of distress.
The impact that COVID-19 has on the mental health of medical workers is complex. These workers are currently facing an increased risk of psychological distress due to:
There have been stories of doctors and nurses taking extreme measures to protect those they love, such as this critical care doctor. This individual moved into a tent in the garage to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to his family.
This is just one case of the many healthcare workers who are being distanced from their loved ones during this time, which of course, adds insult to injury.
In some countries, as many as 1 in 10 healthcare workers are infected with the coronavirus. The healthcare industry is being flooded with patients, and in most cases, hospitals are already understaffed.
As stated by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, “When health workers are at risk, we’re all at risk.”
Infection rates among healthcare workers not only increases rates among a community but also threatens the world’s ability to care for those who are sick. When these workers get sick, they are pulled out of service, placing greater strain on the healthcare system.
Although recommendations are being made in terms of the healthcare industry, focusing on increased access to personal protective equipment and support, there are steps you can take to protect yourself as a frontline worker.
Perhaps the most important thing that healthcare workers can do doing this time is to practice self-care. Some options include:
If you find that you slipping into a state of anxiety and/or depression, it is imperative that you speak to someone. This will help you reduce the risk of mental and physical burnout during an already taxing time.
And remember, you’re never alone.
Walking through the doors of a center like Valley Oaks for the first can be tough. We work hard to make sure that your visit is easy, streamlined, and professional while still addressing your needs. The reality is that more folks are seeking help than you’d ever imagine, and for good reason. More than 80% of folks that seek help for common mental health ailments see significant improvement. Your journey to life’s peaks can start right now… and start right here… at Valley Oaks.
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