The COVID-19 pandemic brought about serious humanitarian crisis, especially in finance, healthcare, and mental health of the general population. As the pandemic raged through the entire world it completely upended the lives of the people. It not only caused mortality and physical morbidity but also wreaked havoc on the mental health of the people.
Depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress have surged significantly during this period. Frontline workers and health care workers have come up like heroes to serve people during this arduous phase. Despite the huge impact on the mental health of frontline and healthcare workers, their mental health is often overlooked.
Studies suggest that there is a high prevalence of mental health problems among the frontline and healthcare workers such as insomnia, illness, burnout, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and many more.
The crucial factors that have contributed towards greater mental health problems among frontline workers are—the risk of exposure to infection, prolonged exposure to adverse circumstances where they have to witness pain, suffering and death of people, job-related stress, compromised personal protective equipment, breach of protocols and guidelines, stigma and psychological impact, compromised capacity of the health system and emergency response teams, interpersonal distancing and isolation/quarantine.
Prolonged exposure to stress has manifested many harmful consequences on the emotional and mental well-being of frontline workers such as:
- It has lead to mental and emotional burnout
- Triggered the onset of mental health disorder, such as stress, anxiety, depression or PTSD
- Exacerbated the risk of unhealthy behavior such as using harmful substances
- Reduced efficacy at work place or increased absenteeism
- Significant surge in suicidal behavior among frontline workers and health care workers
However, with effective measures, all the above problems can be minimized or obliterated. The possible measures to alleviate mental health issues among frontline workers are:
- Effective communication
- Mental health problem screening and interventional facilities
- Tangible support from the administration and seniors
- Spreading of misinformation/rumors through social media should be curbed
- Making quarantine/isolation more flexible and encouraging interpersonal communication through the numerous digital platforms
- Strict legal measure should be taken against ill-treatment and violence with the frontline and health care workers
In a recent interview, therapist Dan Zomerlei, co-owner of Grand Rapids-based Alliance Counseling Group, has expressed his concern over increased mental health support needed by the frontline workers as pandemic continues unabated all over the world. It is almost two years since the Covid-19 pandemic has broke out and wreaked havoc across the globe.
He said, previously frontline workers (including frontline workers and mental health providers) expressed their mental health concern sporadically, but as the pandemic has prevailed for a longer time, the cases of mental health problems have exacerbated among most of them. Things are turning on to be much more difficult due to extreme work pressure, for which, mental health issues have become quite ubiquitous.
They find it difficult to report their work pressure and mental health struggle to their families and eventually it begins to show in their behavior. The symptoms of mental health struggle have reduced their appetite, disturbing sleep patterns, mood and created challenges in their daily functioning. The high demand in seeking mental health is putting a heavy strain on the capacity of the mental health system all over.
Zomerlei further said, in the last couple of months, due to lack of therapists and increase in demand, they are not able to provide support to the frontline workers who have come to them looking for help. He also expressed his concern whether this increase in demand is short-term or long-term. The support needs to be amplified at this point of time, but it is hard to say whether it is possible or not, because the future of the pandemic still remains uncertain.
Frontline workers definitely need a flexible system of support—including peer, professional and organizational help. More research is needed to completely reorganize the systematic, structural and individual barriers for accessing social and psychological support. Greater consultation, collaboration and co-production of support services need to be evaluated and structured at this point of time.
For any mental health condition, the best solution is always seeking early intervention. It ensures a long-term recovery minimizing any risk of a relapse. So, if you or a loved one is struggling with any behavioral health issue, get in touch with Medical Concierge for immediate relief.
Medical Concierge can provide a solution for not only the frontline workers but also others who are battling mental health conditions. We provide personalized mental health inpatient programs, residential mental health rehabilitation programs, evidence-based therapies and continuous care to ensure full recovery of our patients. To know more, call us now on our 24/7 toll free number 877-636-0042 and get immediate assistance.