Health care workers are in a very difficult position being on the front lines of Covid-19 and their mental health should not be overlooked. Workers are likely to experience fear, anxiety and even anger as they work to help people. They are in a battle caring for patients while dealing with concerns about their own well-being and that of their family and friends. Healthcare workers already had a stressful job day to day, and the additional stresses from Covid-19, where there are many unknowns, makes it more difficult.
As a healthcare worker, what can I do protect my mental health?
Remember, your feelings are valid, it’s ok to feel what you feel; there is immense pressure on you, and experiencing stress is by no means a sign of weakness or a reflection on your ability to do your job.
Use coping strategies that have worked in the past. Get enough rest, eat healthy meals, engage in physical activity, stay in contact with family and friends, read, participate in self-help forums, or keep a diary.
Check in with yourself: Are you experiencing symptoms of depression? Are you sleeping ok, do you have prolonged sadness or do you have feelings of hopelessness? Be open to seeking professional help.
Take breaks from the news and social media: Make a regular habit of stepping away from your phone and computer.
Remember why you do what you do: Remind yourself that even with the challenges you have right now, this is your calling. Taking care of those in need is what you do best, so remember what drives you and where your passion comes from.
What can hospitals and physicians’ practices do to support the mental health of healthcare workers?
Communication is a large factor and healthcare workers should be getting regular updates. They should provide the necessary resources for safety, and should provide counseling and have support groups if possible.
Nursing Directors can adjust staffing procedures and schedules where possible. When able to and within legal limits, they can rotate workers from higher-stress to lower-stress functions. Put inexperienced workers with experienced colleagues who can provide support and monitor stress. Implement flexible schedules for workers who are directly impacted or have family that is sick.
Leaders can monitor and review staff members’ well-being to identify risks, emerging issues and respond to their needs.
You are all in this together
Hospitals, physicians’ practices and every healthcare worker, office staff, support staff, scientists, etc. are all in this together. You can do this, you are all the smartest, most innovative, most conscious people on Earth. You are seizing the opportunity to change the way things are done and adapting to a new approach to healthcare. You should all be proud of what you do and the service you provide. The world is watching with amazement, and everyone wants you to be safe and healthy.
Resources for Healthcare Workers