Many Workers Have Yet to Get Mental Health Care They Need Due to Pandemic

Many Workers Have Yet to Get Mental Health Care They Need Due to Pandemic. A clinician in a robe, a mask, glasses, and gloves holds her head in her hand.Nearly one in five health care workers say they need mental health services due to the pandemic but have yet to seek care because they’re too busy, unable to get time off work, can’t afford it or are too afraid or embarrassed.

Nevertheless, most health care workers are feeling more optimistic and believe the novel virus is being brought under control, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post survey.

Nearly six in 10 health care workers said they anticipate the pandemic in the U.S. will be controlled enough so that people could resume normal life by early 2022 or later, while 47% believed that normal life would resume by mid-fall or sooner.

But the data also clearly indicate that the pandemic has had a profound impact on front-line workers’ mental health, particularly that of younger workers.

  • 62% said that worry or stress related to COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health.
  • More than half (56%) said that worry or stress related to COVID-19 has caused them to experience trouble sleeping or sleeping too much (47%), frequent headaches or stomachaches (31%), or increased alcohol or drug use (16%).
  • About 13% reported having accessed mental health services or medications, while 18% said they needed such services but didn't get them.

The youngest front-line workers (18 to 29 years old) seem to have been hardest hit by the pandemic, with three-fourths reporting that worry or stress related to COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health and seven in 10 said they feel “burned out” about work. A Medscape report earlier this year found in a survey of more than 12,000 practitioners that female physicians and those specializing in critical care and infectious disease reported the highest rates of burnout.

For more on ways to address health care workers’ well-being, visit the AHA Behavioral Health resources page. There you’ll find links to COVID-19 stress and coping resources and the recently released “AHA Hospitals in Action: Supporting Care Teams” report, a companion piece to the “Well-Being Playbook 2.0.”

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