Mental health is crucial for medical professionals as well as the patients they care for. Working in the field of healthcare can bring great rewards and purpose. But it can also take a toll on workers’ mental health. Healthcare jobs often require heavy physical and emotional demands that can wear down even the most robust and energetic caregivers.
It is a well-known fact that healthcare professionals often work long hours without a break. There are often staff shortages resulting in more patients per worker. Medical professionals can leave work feeling exhausted and depleted, after witnessing sometimes overwhelming levels of illness, trauma, and death.
Dr. Alex Lee, director of coaching at Ria Health stated, “When you have providers who are dealing with this, day in and day out, they can suffer from more error-prone decisions, compassion fatigue, absenteeism, and at-risk behaviors. The well-being of the individual is at greater risk, and overall makes for a less effective healthcare service.”
In this article, we delve into the importance of mental health for healthcare workers, especially in the wake of the pandemic. We will also share some of the many helpful mental health resources for healthcare workers.
Mental Health for Healthcare Workers Post Pandemic
Although the eye of the storm has passed and we have made it to the post-COVID era, healthcare workers are often experiencing residual effects. During the pandemic, many providers left the profession due to burnout, fear of infection, or refusal to get vaccinated. Those who remained were left to shoulder the extra burden posing risks to their mental health.
Doctor Lee commented “Healthcare workers already deal with a high-stress job. Common reactions after working in this field are sleeplessness, recurring thoughts, and levels of anxiety and depression.”
Numerous studies examine the current state of mental health among healthcare workers. According to a 2023 survey conducted by Medscape1, 53% of physicians reported being burned out and 23% reported feeling depressed. 30% stated that they have felt this way for over 2 years and 43% indicated a severe impact on their lives. 65% noted that their relationships were affected.
Some of the more specific effects cited were frequent bad moods, lack of interest in socializing (isolation), and becoming more negative–all of which could result in reduced quality of patient care.
Schedule a private call with a Ria Health team member and we can help you get started.
Why Is Mental Health Important For Healthcare Workers?
While no profession is without its mental health challenges, healthcare workers are confronted with significant stress and burnout, putting them at greater risk of depression, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, or suicide.2
Good mental health is essential when it comes to taking care of patients. Being in the right frame of mind helps providers face challenges with more calm and clarity. Patients look to caregivers not only for physical healing but also for compassion and empathy.3
Providers suffering from depression, exhaustion, and anxiety find it hard to meet those needs and can be more prone to making poor decisions. This can further add to feelings of helplessness and despair especially because the stakes are so high.
Dr. Lee offers advice for those dealing directly with patients, which still applies post-pandemic; “Don’t be afraid to reach out and take a proactive approach to getting support. You need to take care of your well-being. Check in with yourself regularly to get a sense of where you are mentally, physically, and emotionally. Don’t be shy about asking for help when you need it.”
Mental Health Resources For Healthcare Workers
Healthcare workers need to care for themselves first. As the saying goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” In addition to good nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise, emotional self-care is essential. The good news is there are many helpful mental health resources and apps available today. Here are some to consider:
Emotional PPE Project connects healthcare professionals with licensed mental health providers at no cost and with no insurance requirement.
Therapy Aid Coalition provides short-term crisis support services to U.S. healthcare professionals and responders. This resource is free or low-cost.
Better Help provides remote access to a licensed accredited therapist that is tailored to one’s needs. The therapists are skilled in treating challenges like anxiety and depression.
This app offers grounding exercises, breathing techniques, positive quotes, and ways to identify and change negative thought patterns. You can also track positive and negative habits, journal about your moods, and participate in a supportive forum.
This app connects members with a therapist and can send unlimited messages at any time. Live video sessions are also available.
The Happify app provides activities designed to build resilience, overcome stress and negative thoughts, and improve overall life satisfaction. The evidence-based games are derived from positive psychology, mindfulness, and CBT.
This app features hundreds of guided meditations on a range of subjects, including 2-3 minute “mini-meditations” for when you need a quick reset. It also includes “SOS” sessions for anxiety, stress, and panic.
Mental Health and Alcohol Use
If alcohol consumption has increased in light of mental health challenges professional help is available and easily accessible. Ria Health is a comprehensive, individualized alcohol recovery program. Ria offers anti-craving medications, and online access to physicians and recovery coaches, along with digital tools to track your progress.
Since Ria Health is accessible from your device—no visits to a doctor’s office or clinic are necessary. The program is covered by many major insurance plans. If you are ready to change your relationship with alcohol, Ria Health’s app may be the perfect solution to help you achieve your goals.
Get in touch with us to learn more today.