COVID-19’s Impact On Health Care Workers

The Coronavirus has had a serious impact on the world. The 2020 virus has claimed the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Furthermore, the uncertainty has contributed to large amounts of anxiety, depression, and scarcity thinking. Despite the ordered isolation and social distancing during the pandemic, health care workers bravely face a heightened risk of exposure by taking care of sick patients. As a result, he or she may be vulnerable to the virus, or could become impacted by the stress of exposure. Lastly, the threat of running low on supplies like specialized masks can increase the rate of stress and viral exposure, disrupting the healthcare worker’s anxiety.

HealthCare Professionals, Self-Care And COVID-19 Safety Tips

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued several messages on caring for one’s health and general health advice to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Since the virus currently has no cure currently, health care professionals and even first responders must take extra care to ensure their safety. Additionally, they are exposed to higher than usual amounts of stress, as they save lives and protect themselves at the same time.

One of the most recurring messages in COVID-19 prevention is frequent hand washing and protective masks. The CDC urges health care workers to:

  • Sanitize their hands with an “alcohol-based sanitizer that is 60% to 95% alcohol.”
  • Use face masks and protective eye gear.
  • Practice social distancing of staying 6 feet away from each other.
  • Discard protective eye gear.
  • Wash hands often.

Mental Health Lows And Addiction in Health Care Workers

Nurses and physicians have to practice self-care and extreme cleanliness as long hours, dying patients and exposure to disease can cause difficult working conditions. According to the Journal of Clinical Nursing, “20% of nurses battle problems with substance and alcohol abuse”. Furthermore, a reported 1 in 10 physicians also suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. Finally, doctors who are on drugs put the lives of patients at risk of injuries, poor quality medical procedures and other risks.

There are connections surfacing between the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health, for both healthcare workers and the everyday person. A psychiatrist noted the shift in the mental health of health care workers amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, noting anxiety, insomnia, and “more crying than usual.” With 10 of 44 of Philadelphia COVID-19 cases being healthcare workers in early March, fear of dying co-workers or the virus spreading within the confines of coworkers can make working long hours extremely difficult. Poor coping mechanisms and feelings of hopelessness can emerge in response to the rapidly changing effects of the pandemic. As a result, nurses and doctors should take the precautions to both protect their physical and emotional and mental health.

With 10 of 44 of Philadelphia COVID-19 being healthcare workers in early March, fear of dying co-workers or the virus spreading within the confines of coworkers can make working long hours extremely difficult.

COVID-19 Mental Health And Health Care Workers

Another unfortunate component of the COVID-19 virus has been the onset of emotional and mental health challenges. In addition to protective their own health, the health of COVID-19 exposed patients, and the health of their co-workers, healthcare workers have to protect the lives of loved ones once they go home. This can also create more uncertainty and fear throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Managing stress can reduce panic and mental distress, while keeping the immune system strong. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, globally, frontline workers “were 52% more likely to have symptoms of depression, 57% more likely to have symptoms of anxiety, and 60% more likely to have symptoms of emotional distress, and they are 3 times more likely to experience insomnia.”

Stress-Reducing Self-Care Tips For Health Care Workers

Health care workers should find simple methods to balance stress at home and throughout the week. According to the CDC, some of these include:

  • Taking multivitamins to maintain a healthy body.
  • Getting enough rest at night.
  • Staying away from harmful substances like drugs and alcohol.
  • Connecting to friends and family.
  • Making time to unwind (this can include creative endeavors, meditation, cooking).
  • Drinking a lot of water.

Additionally, some health care workers have chosen to isolate themselves from family for protection, adding to feelings of loneliness.

Finding peace as a health care professional while staying aware of symptoms of the COVID-19 virus can help save lives. Additionally, resisting the urge to drink alcohol and experiment with drugs can reduce potential addictions. If you are a health care worker or know a health care worker battling mental health challenges or substance abuse in response to career demands, consider treatment or contacting mental health hotlines for support.

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Krystina Murray

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  • Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

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