The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant social and economic disruption across most nations worldwide. Among the most drastic implications of the pandemic is the risk of mental health problems health care workers face.
According to new research released in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, health care professionals working on the frontlines during the pandemic could be at a significantly high risk of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, alcohol misuse, and acute traumatic stress.
The scale of psychological complications is comparable to other catastrophes caused by natural disasters, such as the September 11th terrorist attacks, according to researchers.
For the study, more than 500 health care workers were studied to screen for any indication of mental illness. Firefighters, EMTs, nurses, and law enforcement officers were examined from April to May of 2020.
The study showed that exposure to the coronavirus strain was associated with a greater risk of acute traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Alcohol misuse was also a subsequent high risk.
“This pandemic, as horrific as it is, offers us the opportunity to better understand the extraordinary mental stress and strains that health care providers are dealing with right now,” said Andrew Smith, co-author of the study, in a press release.
“With that understanding, perhaps we can develop ways to mitigate these problems and help health care workers and emergency responders better cope with these sorts of challenges in the future.”