4 Min Read

Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Guide for Healthcare Workers

Brad Brenner, Ph.D.

The novel coronavirus stormed in like a tornado, leaving a trail of uncertainty and destruction in its path. Managing the concerns people have about their physical health is challenging enough. However, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 can trigger mental illness flare-ups, causing further problems.

There is a link between COVID-19 and mental health—factors such as isolation, lacking community, and worrying about a family member’s physical health can precipitate worsening of pre-existing mental health conditions.

As a healthcare worker, you stand at the frontlines to protect citizens who are struggling with the coronavirus. You know that you’re at a higher risk due to close contact with COVID-19 patients, and the risk factors are considerable. We want to thank you for your bravery and assistance by offering free access to one month of counseling with our trained therapists including psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Finding Commonality With Patients

When you work such long hours, exhaustion can begin to set in. Providing medical care to patients with COVID-19 is your obligation, but you’re allowed to feel stressed, too. You are at greater exposure to sickness and death, and you may have insider knowledge on the progress of testing, vaccinations, and other troubling statistics. While in many cases, this information may help you understand the pandemic and alleviate anxiety, there are some times you may want to distance yourself and shut down. As a healthcare worker who has been exposed to so much in the last few months, finding ways to balance your own work and self-care routine may come as a challenge.

While you likely share the resource of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) with your patients, you should also consult the organization for your own needs. Of course, NAMI is a world health organization that educates, advocates, and listens. NAMI is built to support struggling individuals and their families, and that promise includes healthcare workers. With the fast-paced and ever-changing daily schedule in healthcare, you may be lacking moments where you can sit, breathe, and heal on your own.

The trademarks of NAMI are hope, empowerment, inclusion, fairness, and compassion. Their world health organization offers the NAMI helpline—a text or phone line available 24/7 for anyone in crisis, including anxiety disorders or mental illnesses related to COVID-19.

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Mental Health in Big Cities Affected by COVID

Large cities, such as New York City and San Francisco, suffered a more significant impact from COVID-19. The hospital staff in NYC and San Francisco are diligently volunteering long work hours to provide care to the patients with confirmed cases. 

First responders are attempting to control the spread of the new coronavirus while transporting COVID-19 patients to hospitals. They are also wearing personal protective equipment and handing out additional information to each patient’s families. All of this bustling and searching for answers creates a high-stress environment that can be hard to catch a break from. For healthcare workers and their families, increases in depression, anxiety, and heightened tension can become rampant. If you are a healthcare worker who wants to protect yourself and your children, you can look into family-oriented resources that will help you cope.

In large cities especially, health care workers can utilize this free service and make their own healing a priority amidst all the uncertainty and chaos. Remember, your feelings and experiences during this time are valid and your setbacks and struggles deserve attention, too.

Mental Wellness and the Healthcare Professional

As a healthcare worker, especially during this time, you are portrayed in society as a hero with unending amounts of strength. While these are true in many ways, you may feel under pressure, or like you are not living up to expectations. If underneath it all, you are struggling to hold it together, know that you are not alone. 

Many healthcare workers are struggling under the stress and uncertainty. Some are dealing with compassion fatigue as their work demands a great amount of empathy. Others are feeling like they can’t juggle the needs of their families with the needs of their profession. It’s okay to take a step back and ask for help when you need it. Reach out to extended family members and close friends and voice some of your struggles. If you feel isolated, it may be a good time to look into therapy to discuss some of your frustrations and needs. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has included some tips for mental wellness in their #HealthyAtHome campaign. As a healthcare professional, some tips from the list you may especially benefit from include limiting screen time and minimizing news feeds when you are at home—to help curb the overload of information—and keeping consumption of alcohol and other drugs down during this time. On top of all this, you should care for your unique needs by finding a therapist who is right for you.

Take Care Of Yourself

WithTherapy wants to thank you again for standing on the frontlines. If you are suffering from an emotional response to the death and grief caused by COVID-19, we invite you to reach out for support using the therapist search tools on WithTherapy. 

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