Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, these “unprecedented times” we have all heard about are no longer so unprecedented. Many people are becoming acclimated to the pandemic way of living- maybe even numb to it. For others, COVID-19 has been and continues to be a daily nightmare. Especially for health care workers in the middle of all the madness, COVID-19 continues to be a source of anxiety, depression, and burnout.
According to a survey conducted by Mental Health America from June to September 2020, 93% of health care workers reported experiencing stress, 75% reported being overwhelmed, and 76% reported burnout. Many reported several sources of increased stress, including poor sleep, lack of emotional support, and the fear of exposing children and other loved ones to the virus (The Mental Health of Healthcare Workers in COVID-19, n.d.). According to an article from the Association of American Medical Colleges, “… health care workers responsible for providing direct care for COVID-19 patients are more likely to have depression, anxiety, and mental distress. These mental health issues may be related to psychological distress from witnessing COVID-19-related deaths, extra-long work hours, and work-life imbalance,” (Kaushik, 2021).
A common long-term effect of the stress of being a health care worker during the pandemic is burnout. Many health care workers report lacking compassion, passion, and motivation. A survey of 1,000 health care workers by Morning Consult in January 2020 found that many health care workers have considered leaving their position, with 14% considering leaving the health care profession altogether (Bracken, 2021).
There are many things that can be done to decrease the stress placed on health care workers during the pandemic, though many solutions require action at an institution level. The AMA put out an article with ideas of how to manage stress as a health care worker during COVID-19. On a personal level, they recommend openly discussing your feelings, taking a break from the news, and focusing on the meaning of work. At an institutional level, they recommend adjusting staff schedules to allow for the most life-work balance and providing access to support (Managing mental health during COVID-19, 2021).
This article reviewed by Ms. Deb Dooley.
There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.
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