COVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone, but it has had more of a dramatic impact on some groups more than others. Among the hardest-hit groups are health care workers. Even in ordinary times, health care workers have to deal with significant stressors, but the pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on most of them. For example, studies from China have found that initial health care responders have experienced major increases in depression, anxiety, insomnia and the fear of workplace violence.
A June 2020 study of more than 5,000 respondents found that one in five essential workers had considered suicide in the last month. Of those workers, 13% said they were using drugs (illicit and prescription) and alcohol to manage stress caused by the pandemic.
One study found that more than half of physicians said their workload affected their mental health. Further, three out of four doctors had witnessed symptoms of burnout among other doctors. The rate of suicide for doctors is more than twice that of the general population and, in fact, higher than any other profession.
With the unrelenting stress of the pandemic likely to continue for the ongoing future, the mental pressure and demands on health care workers may only accelerate. That makes addressing and treating mental health issues paramount for these workers. Though because of the stigma around these issues, they may be reluctant to seek help.
It’s important to recognize that it’s not only acceptable — but healthy — to ask for help if you’re struggling with mental health issues. The accompanying resource provides additional statistics about mental health in health care workers and potentially effective management techniques.
Graphic created by Mozzaz.