Healthcare workers are feeling pandemic blues


70% of survey participants admit they are pessimistic, many experiencing trauma, anxiety

Covid is taking a toll on the mental health of healthcare professionals of the country. A survey shows that they are anxious, suffering from fear and trauma, and are on the brink of despair, even as they put up a brave face and fight on from the frontline.

City doctors conducted a mental health study in healthcare professionals and the findings are not pretty.

The World Health Organisation encourages people to flatten the curve through social distancing, but no one is talking about a potential mental health crisis that healthcare workers are facing, say doctors. To an outside observer, health care workers look strong and resilient in the face of the unknown.

Underneath it, many health care workers are barely keeping it together, the survey reveals.

The overall feeling in the healthcare professionals is impending doom and an existing gloom that is both physically and psychologically palpable. To lower this risk, many health care workers have decided to socially isolate themselves. Some have chosen to have their at-risk family members spend time with relatives away from them and others have isolated themselves, even within their own homes.

Health care workers are also concerned they might die from Covid-19. Some are concerned they will be called upon to do work they have not done in years due to staffing needs. Still others are grieving the traumas they will see and the decisions they will be forced to make. Some have said they will simply not come to work and would rather quit medicine all together. They are not sleeping, are anxious, or afraid.

They chose avoidance as a coping strategy to deal with stressors and have multiple triggers which cause them to show bodily symptoms ­

–Dr KN Manohar, Manipal Hospitals

The doctors involved in this study are Manohar KN, Consultant Physician, Manipal Hospitals, Neha Parashar, Assistant Professor, Clinical Psychologist, Montfort College and CR Satish Kumar, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Manipal Hospitals.

Dr KN Manohar said, “The purpose of our survey was to understand the level of resilience and stress during covid-19 among health care professionals in India. We collected responses from English proficient healthcare professionals above 20 and below 65 years of age in India. The survey was circulated on various groups and social media and we also sent the questionnaire to many healthcare professionals through a contact network to spread them. The survey began on April 16, 2020, and ended on May 15, 2020, when India was in a complete lockdown period due to the outbreak of covid-19.”

In the nationwide survey, primary health care providers (such as doctors, nurses and technical staff) from 26 states, including Union territories participated. “Among 2,008 practitioners, about 51% females and 49% of males reported having intrusive thoughts related to going through difficulties faced by their patients. They chose avoidance as a coping strategy to deal with stressors and triggers and have multiple triggers which caused them to show bodily symptoms post their interaction with patients during the pandemic,” he added.

The survey also indicated the self-rating of mood states by the primary health care providers during the pandemic time to be inclining towards the sadder spectrum. The resilient and optimistic healthcare providers also showed signs of pessimism (reported by almost 70% of participants), wher

eas only 20% reported that they are highly optimistic during difficult times.

Doctors said that it shows that these professionals need psychological support to enhance their mental health and self-care practices.



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Sagar Biswas

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