The Impact of Coronavirus on Mental Health of Healthcare Workers
The Coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented in so many ways; the threat to our health and impact on our lifestyles has been unlike any other event in living memory. It has been stressful, and a recent study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that the impact of Coronavirus on mental health has been drastic; almost one fifth (19.2%) of 3,500 people surveyed experienced depression in June 2020, almost double the 9.7% with symptoms in the period between June 2019 and March 2020.
Although there is yet to be a similar study into the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of healthcare workers, the impact is likely to be much more felt in this group. Healthcare workers have had to put themselves on the ‘frontline’ and at higher risk of being infected and passing on the virus to loved ones at home. They have also had to face some of the hardest challenges of their careers; wanting to provide patients with the levels of care they need but being unable to do so due to shortages in PPE, other medical equipment and sufficiently trained staff.
What Ethical Issues Do Healthcare Staff Face?
According to a group of clinical ethicists in Australian hospitals who published an article on the British Medical Journal’s Journal of Medical Ethics blog, the new ethical questions that healthcare staff are facing include:
- What should [they] do when the PPE available is inadequate for the task?
- Should [they] alter/decrease the frequency of patient care in order to conserve PPE?
- Should [they] delay cardiopulmonary resuscitation to don PPE?
In military terminology, this is known as moral injury; the psychological distress that results from actions, or the lack thereof, which violate someone’s moral or ethical code. This illustrates the damage of Coronavirus on mental health as well as physical. When healthcare staff have the necessary skills and knowledge to improve the quality of – or even save – lives, but are being held back by a lack of protective equipment without which they could become infected and pass on the virus to other vulnerable patients, it’s understandable that they would suffer psychologically.
In emergency situations, choosing between performing CPR to save a person’s life in that moment and being held back by avoidable limitations. Studies following previous pandemics have shown that healthcare workers are likely to be at extremely high risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and substance abuse.
What Can Be Done?
Healthcare is always going to be a high-stress career, and it is important that every member of staff, including doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, carers, students and all others have access to mental health support. It is also vital to mitigate the stresses and the impact of Coronavirus on mental health of our key workers, by providing healthcare staff with the equipment necessary to carry out their duties of care without risking their professional or personal wellbeing. At the present, our focus is on delivering PPE to healthcare staff across the UK and across the world quickly and affordably, so staff aren’t driven to these situations.
Throughout the pandemic, Clarity has been working harder than ever to support the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries with our multi-channel distribution services. Working together, we are able to ensure that all aspects of their operations run smoothly and without delay; getting medical supplies to wherever they are needed, as soon as they are needed. If you have equipment or supplies that could be effective in protecting healthcare staff against COVID-19 and the psychological stresses that go along with it, contact us to discuss distributing it today.