|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Ahead of print publication
Mental Health Tool-Kit for Healthcare Professionals
Shreya Sood1, Arpita Gupta2
1 Final Year Medical Student, Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Near Delhi Gate, Balmiki Basti, New Delhi, Delhi, India
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Near Delhi Gate, Balmiki Basti, New Delhi, Delhi, India
Final Year Medical Student, Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, 99-Jamuna Dham, Mathura-281004, Uttar Pradesh, India
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
The current COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on physical as well as mental health and well-being. Containment measures to control the contagion have heightened the detriments of mental health. A recent study in the Indian population showed that stress is at an all-time high with a staggering 43% of the respondents with features of depression.
One of the most vulnerable population to mental health issues are healthcare professionals who were found to suffer from depression and stress with rates as high as 30.1% and 70% even in the prepandemic times. The prevailing circumstances may have led to the worsening of this trend due to various reasons − higher risk of exposure compared to the general population, pressure to work in a potentially dangerous environment with inadequate resources, and fear of infecting loved ones. Some doctors have also reported suffering from “moral injury” described as “difficulty coping with working in conditions where they were exposed to trauma that they felt unprepared for.” The moral and professional dilemma caused by COVID-19 was almost never seen before. Overwhelming of healthcare services has lead to circumstances where the medical services have become unavailable to non-COVID patients and those with chronic illnesses. Being once in a lifetime situation, lack of preparedness has further added to the problems. This demands contemplating a robust and dedicated support system for health care professionals that not only helps in short-term crisis, but also provides continual assistance for the challenges that move hand-in-hand with medical profession.
To begin with, being astute about the newer advances and updates on the pathophysiology and treatments about COVID-19 will help in better preparedness and decreasing anxiety. This information can be regularly provided by Central and State associations through centralized portals and periodic newsletters. Regular webinars and interactive online meetings through portals such as Google Meet and Microsoft Team can help doctors to access relevant data from authentic sources and clarify ambiguity regarding various guidelines and treatments mushrooming all over the Internet and news media.
Community building models should be promoted to allow de-stigmatization of mental health by bringing discussion forums such as Schwartz rounds to India, which provide a space for healthcare staff from all backgrounds to safely discuss the emotional and social challenges associated with this field.
The seniors can also keep a check on their juniors and other medical staff in order to recognize any aberrant behaviors. If any predicament or frustration is noted, relevant psychological support can be offered through mental health professionals who should be made available at all times through helplines to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and depression.
The current times have displayed vulnerabilities in the social, political, and personal systems that have been normalized over the course of decades if not centuries. Stigmatization and undervaluation of mental health issues are a fissure in our healthcare system. As we resume with a new equilibrium during and postpandemic, we must try to reach a position where we allow a more open conversation and press for the inclusion of mental health in the purview of holistic health, not just for patients but also for healthcare providers.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
The authors reported no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Grover S, Sahoo S, Bhalla A, Avasthi A. Psychological problems and burnout among medical professionals of a tertiary care hospital of North India: a cross-sectional study. Indian J Psychiatry 2018;60:175-88.
] [Full text]
Fiorillo A, Gorwood P. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and implications for clinical practice. Eur Psychiatry 2020;63:e32.
Greenberg N, Docherty M, Gnanapragasam S, Wessely S. Managing mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers during covid-19 pandemic. BMJ 2020;368:m1211.
Pfefferbaum B, North C. Mental health and the Covid-19 pandemic. New Engl J Med 2020;383:510-2.