How You Can Take Care Of Your Mental Health As A Frontline Worker

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The current pandemic is proving to be quite trying and the past few months have been hard for all of us. However, let’s not forget the warriors openly combatting the virus every day and putting their life on the line for us. Frontline workers are doing an admirably courageous job as doctors, policemen, hospital and ambulance staff. The mental strain that these health workers must be going through is unimaginable, especially as they are unable to unwind and relax their nerves. A study found that health workers are more likely to be suffering from psychiatric disorders during a pandemic, and that this might affect their overall performance and render them more prone to mental health problems than the rest of the population. Keep reading below to find out more. And if you’re a frontline worker – thank you for everything you’re doing!

How Covid-19 Might Be Affecting The Mental Health Of A Frontline Worker

Frontline workers may face various kinds of mental pressures and illnesses. These can affect their performance at work and even the health of their physical body. The most common feeling is the emotional strain and physical exhaustion that the health workers may feel due to working long shifts involving stressful procedures that could result in anxiety. The heat of the summer is not making their jobs any easier, especially for those who work outside and bring patients in. The workers may go through psychological distress and depression when faced with critical cases and situations that they cannot improve. 

Steps Management Can Take To Ease The Stress

Here are a few tips that the hospital management can adopt to boost morale amongst their staff:

1. Practical Support 

Data from medical staff in the Middle East at the outbreak of MERS shows that the medical staff believed that specific means for practical support acted as protection when it came to maintaining mental wellbeing. Practical measures can include providing the staff proper equipment that will sufficiently protect them from catching the virus. 

2. Efficiency in identifying those suffering

Research with the SARS outbreak showed that it is vital for management to identify the staff members suffering from mental health problems, or those who are at high risk for enduring psychological illness. These members should be monitored and provided with adequate psychological support.

3. Developing evidence-based treatment tools and prevention

Management should invest in tools that could provide psychological support for staff members who undergo stressful situations every day. They should also develop interventions that can help medical staff deal with long-term mental illnesses, like post-traumatic depression. Providing frequent breaks and shortening shift duration can help improve mental health of the staff members.

Steps Frontline Workers Can Take

There are however, other strategies that frontline health workers can adopt to broaden and brighten their perspective. Applying a few simple changes in their routine might help them deal better with nerve-racking situations and keeping a positive mindset. Here are a few recommended ones:

1. Frequent Breaks and Communication

Frequent breaks can improve efficiency and make one fresh and ready to start their work again. It is highly important that one does not isolate themselves from others. Maintaining good communication with friends, co-workers and family members via video call is vital. Playing trivia or scrabble games is also a recommended strategy that can help de-stress, or maybe even indulging in your favourite meal during break! 

2. Slow Down!

We are all so grateful for everything you are doing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t slow down your pace when you feel the need to! Experts have recommended that slowing down work can help regain one’s energy. By slowing down, one has the space to address what they are feeling in the moment. It also creates an emotional pause to regain strength before moving on to the next patient.

3. Establishing healthy habits

Inconsistent routines disturb the normalcy of an individual’s life and affect their immune system. The relationship between regular eating, sleeping and exercise should be consistent. Fluxes in food change can cause drop in blood sugar level which can render one’s ability to concentrate and perform well. Sleep deprivation has also been proven to interfere with cognition and amygdala activity. Staying away from news and social media has also been recommended by many to maintain optimism. Many applications have been engineered so that they may help individuals keep a positive perspective each day during hard times; some of them include Virtual Hope Box and Delightful Gratitude.

4. Online resources for support 

Amid the corona outbreak, many international NGO’s have come up with platforms that provide mental health support to health workers on the field every day. Mind the Frontline is an international organisation of psychiatrists aiming to help their compatriots through this difficult period. The website provides detailed guidelines on how medical staff can deal with death, anxiety, stress or even thoughts of suicide. Relive Now is another resource operating locally that gives free online therapy consultations for those who are feeling overwhelmed during this time.

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