AN ASSESSMENT OF THE MENTAL AND PSYCOLOGICAL WELL-BEING OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS  AMIDST COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA

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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE MENTAL AND PSYCOLOGICAL WELL-BEING OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS  AMIDST COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for society. Supporting the mental health of medical staff and affiliated healthcare workers (staff) is a critical part of the public health response. This paper details the effects on staff and addresses some of the organisational, team and individual considerations for supporting staff (pragmatically) during this pandemic. Leaders at all levels of health care organisations will find this a valuable resource.

 

Research into the psychological effects of infectious disease outbreaks such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and pandemic flu (H1N1) shows consistent patterns of reactions and covers the experiences of staff in work, those in quarantine and those returning to work from time away sick.

Challenges for staff include not only the increased workload created by such outbreaks but also fears of contagion for themselves and their families, working with new and frequently changing protocols and personal protective equipment (PPE), caring for patients who are very sick and quickly deteriorating and caring for colleagues who have also fallen ill. In many cases resources will be stretched to the limit by an infectious disease outbreak and, as we have already seen in COVID-19, difficult decisions have to be made about who is suitable for invasive treatments such as life-support and who is not. These treatment decisions will in some cases differ from decisions that might have been made were the disease not so virulent, or the resources greater. The gravity of the situation is well understood by most healthcare professionals.

 

The evidence to date suggests that female nurses with close contact with COVID-19 patients may have the most to gain from efforts aimed at supporting psychological well-being. However, inconsistencies in findings and a lack of data collected outside of hospital settings, suggest that we should not exclude any groups when addressing psychological well-being in health and social care workers. Whilst psychological interventions aimed at enhancing resilience in the individual may be of benefit, it is evident that to build a resilient workforce, occupational and environmental factors must be addressed. Further research including social care workers and analysis of wider societal structural factors is recommended.

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