- Nov. 19, 2020
-- Healthcare workers managing heavy caseloads and working long hours in stressful environments may do so in bursts by running off adrenaline. But over an extended period of time, the adrenaline wears off. This chronic period of elevated stress (https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
cncy.22347) is "akin to what people might experience during prolonged war or refugee crises." In regions with high mortality rates, "'clinicians often describe a feeling of helplessness (https://health.usnews.com/
an inability to render care...to the fullest extent they would desire.'" Changing safety protocols and information compound feelings of helplessness by making it difficult for workers to feel they are properly caring for patients and adequately protecting themselves.
Having sufficient protective equipment is not a guarantee. Even with it, workers still worry about their own health and the health of loved ones. That's why many have sacrificed living with their families (https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/ways-to-sup...
) and support networks to limit risks.
In addition to feelings of helplessness and isolation, many healthcare workers feel the concern and support they provide for others is not reciprocated outside hospitals. An article in the American Cancer Society Journals (https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/c...
) cited the politicizing of mask-wearing rather than focusing on the science as an example. One doctor even said it feels like "'nobody's listening, nobody's following the rules...and the numbers aren't going down.'"
It's important to be able to recognize burnout so healthcare workers can receive help. According to the Minnesota Department of Health signs of burnout (https://www.health.state.mn.us/
may include getting easily frustrated, experiencing sadness, depression, or apathy, disconnecting from others, poor self-care, and using unhealthy or unsafe coping mechanisms.
Coping strategies include diving back into old hobbies or picking up new ones, limiting media exposure, exercising regularly, and maintaining good sleep habits. Co-workers can adopt the buddy system (https://www.health.state.mn.us/
. Partners "monitor each other's stress, workload, and safety." Social media support groups offer places to share, vent, and connect. For professional help, teletherapy companies, Talkspace (https://www.talkspace.com/
and BetterHelp (https://www.betterhelp.com/
, offer healthcare workers 50% off their first month.
It's also important to maintain connections outside of work. Have a game night via video chat or host a movie night. Amazon Prime even has a Watch Party (https://www.amazon.com/
feature. A list of more resources such as live mental health counselors and meditation apps can be found here (https://heroeshealth.unc.edu/
If you are concerned you or someone you know may want to harm yourself or someone else, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/)
at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)
. Para obtener ayuda en Español, llama al 1-888-628-9454. Or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/)
at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.