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• A study of doctors and nurses in China treating COVID-19 patients indicated that many health officials experienced depression and anxiety.
• What support systems are in place for health workers during this time?
• Here is a list of funds addressing immediate and long-term needs related to COVID-19.
If you’re finding it hard to stay home right now, imagine how it would feel to be a doctor or nurse. Health care workers don’t have the luxury of holing up in their homes to shield themselves from the coronavirus. They have to expose themselves to the risk, and some are separating themselves from their families for weeks to avoid transmitting the virus to them.
They’re not only suffering the anxiety of caring for sick patients — while facing a dire lack of personal protective equipment and rapidly changing hospital protocols — but also forgoing the calming companionship of their partners and children. It’s a whole different level of lonely from what most of us are dealing with.
So it should come as no surprise that the mental well-being of health care workers is in serious jeopardy. A new study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, quantifies that risk.
The survey-based study examines the mental health outcomes of 1,257 health care workers attending to Covid-19 patients in 34 hospitals in China. The results are not comforting. A large proportion of them report experiencing symptoms of depression (50 percent), anxiety (45 percent), insomnia (34 percent), and psychological distress (71.5 percent).
Women and nurses report especially severe symptoms — perhaps not surprising, given that they’re often called on to do extra emotional labor, like keeping up a steady stream of reassurances while suppressing their own feelings, which is known to take a toll. Front-line workers and those in Wuhan, the epicenter of the original outbreak, exhibit a greater psychological burden than Chinese health care workers farther from the epicenter.
“Protecting health care workers is an important component of public health measures for addressing the Covid-19 epidemic,” the study concludes. “Special interventions to promote mental wellbeing in health care workers exposed to Covid-19 need to be immediately implemented, with women, nurses, and frontline workers requiring particular attention.”
Read the full article about mental health of health officials treating COVID-19 by Sigal Samuel at Vox.