Front Line Healthcare Workers’ Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19

Get the Counseling You Need While Stuck in Quarantine with Telehealth
March 19, 2020
You Are #NotAlone: National Mental Health Awareness Month
May 19, 2020

 

Coronavirus isn’t just taking its toll on those over age 65 and individuals with pre-existing health conditions. The packed hospitals, the huge spike in deaths, and carrying for individuals who are dying and unable to be with their family members in their final moments is taking a huge emotional toll on our nation’s healthcare workers, particularly nurses and doctors.

And that doesn’t even factor in the fear these professionals feel about contracting COVID-19 themselves and spreading it to their own family members.

As this Los Angeles Times article documents, it’s predicted that anywhere between 20% to 25% of healthcare professionals are going to experience depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of being on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19.

The article points out this estimate is roughly equivalent to the number of service members who return from war zones and experience a mental illness.

How Will Coronavirus Stress Impact New Orleans Healthcare Workers?

Here in New Orleans, where we once had the fastest-growing rate of Coronavirus per capita in the entire world, our healthcare workers are expected to be experiencing depression, anxiety, and PTSD at the nation’s expected rate, if not higher. While we’ve all been celebrating nurses and doctors as the heroes they are, the truth is, they’re putting on brave faces as they’re becoming more emotionally connected to patients than they typically ever are.

The main reason for this is that COVID-19 positive patients are isolated from their family members. Typically, if a patient is dying in the hospital, his or her loved ones are able to visit and say their final goodbyes. With Coronavirus, nurses and doctors are helping to facilitate those conversations by holding up iPhones so patients can FaceTime their loved ones one last time, or relaying final goodbyes from friends and family.

In an industry where death always happens but dealing with death is managed by not becoming emotionally connected to dying patients, emotional connectedness is happening at an alarming rate.

Hospitals Are Putting Programs in Place to Care for Nurses and Doctors Stressed by Coronavirus

Because they know their medical staff’s mental health is so important, hospitals are beginning to put in place programs to help nurses and doctors recognize their own stress levels, identify coworkers who may need help, and offer counseling services. These are much-needed programs to care for our nation’s frontline healthcare workers.

How Our Counselors Are Helping

Being a New Orleans-based counseling practice, we’re already anticipating an influx of healthcare workers needing our assistance in the weeks and months to come. And we’re preparing to best help guide them through their mental health journeys to overall wellness.

Counseling for conditions like stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD can help in several ways, including:

  • Giving affected individuals a safe person and place to discuss their feelings and emotions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Helping individuals experiencing a mental health condition process their feelings and emotions.
  • Teaching counseling patients coping skills for dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms.

And most importantly, counseling helps patients realize they’re not alone. They have a support person in their counselor, who can also remind them that what they’re feeling is normal and expected given the tremendous stress they’ve experienced caring for Coronavirus patients and watching so many of them die.

Reach Out to Us If You Need Help

Counseling has been proven to help people experiencing high levels of stress as well as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. We know it may be difficult to take the first step in asking for help, which is why we’ve created an online form for making your initial contact with us if you’re more comfortable writing out what you’re experiencing then calling in and talking to us. 

But of course, we’re always here to talk as well. You can call us at (504) 302-7771 to inquire about our services and get matched with a counselor.