the pandemic had a profound impact on the psychological well-being of health care workers.
When someone becomes ill, they tend to rely on professional health care workers to guide them back to health. The modern world is a safer place than ever before thanks to the hard work of these talented people. At the same time, those workers are human just like everyone else, and they have care needs – both physical and mental – that need to be attended to properly. Unfortunately, when it comes to needing mental health help, that often doesn’t seem to be the case. Health care workers are frequently not getting the mental health help that they need, and it is taking a toll on their lives – and their performance at work – as a result. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure these valuable individuals get exactly what they need to remain in a good frame of mind both on and off the job.
Perhaps no one felt the impact of the pandemic quite like health care workers. At a time when most people were told to stay home, health care workers did not have that option – they were needed more than ever before, and they had to risk their health to provide care to others. As if this situation wasn’t stressful enough, it was combined with staffing shortages to lead to high stress rates and increasing burnout across the board.
Despite the great work that these professionals were doing for their patients, the treatment of such workers declined dramatically. Reports of harassment on the job went up during the pandemic, which only caused more to leave, and the shortages to get worse. The fact that these changes led to mental health struggles for the workers shouldn’t be in any way surprising, and the widespread nature of the crisis is as predictable as it is problematic.
There are never easy answers to mental health questions, but it seems that many of the problems facing health care workers could be solved – or, at least, improved – through better working conditions. That means needing to work less hours, getting more support in cases of patient harassment, and having mental health resources available. Also, giving the workers more control over the decisions that are made that impact how and when they work could go a long way. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has enacted a program called Impact Wellbeing with the goal of making some of these much-needed improvements.
People from all walks of life need mental health support, and that’s particularly true for those who work in high-stress environments like health care. As the stigma around mental health issues continues to come down, it’s important that resources become more and more available – and more affordable – for those who need them most. This is a problem that is far bigger than what one person can tackle alone, so it’s important for institutional, structural changes to be enacted to help everyone get the right care in a timely manner.