COVID-19 And Mental Health: How Healthcare Workers Are Affected By The Pandemic

The pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health, but even more on healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are not only affected mentally but are also at the risk of contracting the virus. They are at the forefront helping those infected, increasing their risk of exposure to the virus than others.

According to the American Journal of Nursing, 21% to 35% of respondents in their study reported decreasing professional satisfaction as a result of the pandemic. This has something to do with the impact COVID19 has on healthcare workers mental health.

 

Impact of COVID-19 on HealthCare Workers Mental Health

COVID-19’s mental health impact has been felt by everybody. However, it is having a serious impact on healthcare practitioners, including physicians, health care workers, and other personnel. Consider health care workers, who must work long hours, often throughout the day and night, with little opportunity for relaxation, sleep, or even eating. They are wearing personal protection equipment (PPE), which is necessary but can be uncomfortable, especially if the temperatures and humidity are not carefully managed. They also run the danger of becoming infected. Unfortunately, several of them became sick, and some died as a result of the infection. Aside from overwork and uncertainty, there is also the dread of infecting their loved ones.

Excessive work hours, depletion of personal protective equipment, over-enthusiastic media reports, feeling inadequately supported, a shortage of particular treatments, and the infection rate among medical personnel have all been linked to negative psychological outcomes among healthcare workers, according to research. Several psychological signs are comparable between the COVID-19 pandemic and the SARS or Ebola outbreaks among health care workers. Furthermore, it has been shown that nurses have greater levels of anxiety and depression than doctors.

According to research by Nursing open, during this COVID19 pandemic, among 1,257 health care workers, 50.4 percent suffered from depression, 44.6 percent from anxiety, 34.0 percent from sleeplessness, and 71.5 percent from distress.

Health care workers suffering from acute stress disorder may have difficulty sleeping, worry constantly, and have persistent negative thoughts about their role in the traumatic event, such as thinking, “I should have done more to help.” Whenever we are traumatized, we become distanced from the memories. We disregard our feelings to avoid discomfort, yet these feelings resurface over time and have an influence on our life. The nurse may react to a slight annoyance as if it were a life-threatening situation.

Health care workers are not unfamiliar with caring for seriously sick patients who pass away. However, the high number of deaths from the COVID19 virus is enough to make them feel helpless or might lead to PTSD. PTSD can occur as a result of direct or indirect exposure to a traumatic incident, such as hearing of a terrible occurrence affecting a family member, friend, or coworker. PTSD patients have recurring strong and distressing thoughts and sensations that arise from one or more traumatic incidents. Health care workers suffering from PTSD may relive an event through flashbacks or dreams, and they may experience despair, fear, rage, guilt, humiliation, and feelings of separation or estrangement from others.

4 Ways You Can Take Care Of Your Mental Health

  1. Therapy
    Therapy is normally frowned upon and seen as deserving for people with major life crises but that should not be the case. If as a healthcare worker you feel depressed, anxious, and unsettled, talking to a therapist will do you good. Not only will you be able to share how you’re feeling but you will get expert advice on how you can go about it and feel better. Talk therapy may greatly improve your mental health and overall well-being as a healthcare worker. Of course, to achieve the best outcomes, you’ll need to select a therapist who shares your values. If you are unsure where to begin, get advice from your family doctor.

    Therapy is beneficial in many aspects of life. It is an excellent outlet for coping with everyday life difficulties, employment challenges, prior trauma, or simply needing a sounding board.
    You may share with friends but some might not be able to understand how you’re feeling.
  2. Prepare yourself mentally
    Put negative ideas and preconceptions about the day to the test. You know things that you can’t change and those that you can and during this COVID19 times, there is very little you can do as a health worker to prevent people from catching the virus.. Write them down and internalize them. Journaling them down helps put your anxiety to rest. You can also take six deep breaths to lower your pulse rate and prepare your body for action. This will make you calm down and help reduce panic.
  3. Rest, Rest, Rest!
    During this pandemic time, as a healthcare worker, you may be so busy that you neglect rest. When your shift is over, take that time to maximize rest. It’s tempting to push through and finish other tasks, especially in this high-pressure season. However, taking a break is crucial since it allows you to relax and heal, even if just for a short time. Don’t feel bad about it; it’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity for the patients and your protection.
  4. Don’t carry work with you
    Once you leave the hospital, don’t think about work. We get it. As healthcare workers, you’re attached to patients especially during this COVID19 pandemic where you’re interacting with many of them and some of them are in critical condition. It may be hard to set foot outside the hospital and forget your interaction with patients during your shifts but you need to. You can do this by maybe going out with friends, watching a movie, or doing something that you love that helps relax your mind and captures your attention. This is great for your mental health.

The Takeaway

Healthcare workers play an important role in ensuring everyone’s health is in check especially during this COVID19 times. They need all the support they can get. Healthcare facilities can go a long way in helping workers deal with mental health issues better. Some of these ways include advocating for their mental health by providing therapists, balanced shifts, giving them time off, and any other good gesture to help them be better at their job.

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As a healthcare worker, we would love to read how COVID19 has impacted you and how you’re coping. Share in the comments.