U.S. healthcare workers struggling with mental health as a result of COVID-19
A new study highlights the mental health struggles faced by healthcare workers in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic
A new study has reported that healthcare workers in the U.S. are at greater risk than the general public of experiencing mental health challenges, such as depression, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ann Pearman, corresponding author of the study and a senior research scientist in the School of Psychology at Georgia Institute of Technology said, “Our goal was to better understand the impact that COVID-19 was having on the mental well-being of healthcare workers.”
“What we learned suggests that anyone who identifies as a healthcare professional – whether it’s a physician or a support worker in a hospital – is at risk for mental health problems that could be devastating if left untreated,” added Shevaun Neupert, a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University and co-author of the paper.
“These findings are alarming, and we need additional work to better capture the scope of this problem. What’s more, we need to be thinking about how we can help our healthcare workers.”
Online survey study
The researchers conducted an online survey of 90 people who identified as healthcare workers in varying roles from physicians, nurses and medical technicians, as well as hospital administrators. They also surveyed a control group of 90 people, from the general public, matched with the age and sex of the healthcare workers.
The survey included demographic questions, as well as questions aimed at capturing various aspects of mental health and well-being. The answers revealed that the Healthcare workers reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and tiredness, as well as lower feelings of control over their lives. They were also less likely to prepare themselves for future stresses or adverse events.
“We found that the healthcare group averaged a depressive symptoms score that would qualify as clinical depression. It was approximately 30% higher than the depressive symptoms score for the control group. You don’t expect to see an entire workforce score like that on a depression diagnostic tool.
“Our findings suggest that healthcare workers are at much higher risk right now of negative outcomes, such as depression. That’s not sustainable, and we need to figure out what we’re going to do about it,” says Neupert.
The paper, “Mental health challenges of U.S. healthcare professionals during COVID-19,” is accepted in Frontiers in Psychology | Psychology for Clinical Settings. The paper was co-authored by Emily Smith of NC State and MacKenzie Hughes of Georgia Tech