Higher rates of mental health problems among healthcare workers during Covid-19

Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash

Beyond being an infectious disease, one of the resulting effects of the unforeseen circumstances caused by coronavirus pandemic are a group of psychological imbalances ranging from fear to anxiety and depression. On the general population, evidences to date shows both the effect of the covid-19 pandemic and the imposed restrictions has significantly increased psychological stress in approximately one out of five people in Ireland and other countries. Dr Philip Hyland of Maynooth University said, “We’re seeing high rates of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, and these problems are affecting men and women differently. Women are experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety whereas men are experiencing higher rates of post-traumatic stress.”

Predominantly, the level of psychological distress among healthcare workers in Ireland is approximately higher than those in the general population. The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) recorded that 88% of healthcare workers got the virus in a healthcare setting as staff. As of May 30th, seven healthcare workers have died from the virus, 1,515 (19%) have recovered, and 4,823 are still ill (60%). 20% of cases have a currently unknown status. These facts have definitely instilled fear in offering healthcare services to the public.

On 27th November 2020, after six weeks at Level 5, the highest level in the framework for dealing with the virus in Ireland, the Government announced its plans to reopen the country for Christmas by loosening travel and indoor dining restrictions.

Following this, a 14 day report by the HPSC from 27th December 2020 until 9th January 2021 shows that the total number of COVID-19 cases at that time was 63,692 of which the total number of cases of health workers is 5,019, which is 7.9% proportion of the general cases. The greater number of Health care Roles being infected are the Nurses, Healthcare assistant, Admin  and  Clerical workers in the following locations; acute hospital, nursing Home and Community services. It is therefore safe to say that health workers are susceptible to the virus due to their close contact with infected people.

Below is a graph representing the above information:

Sourced from HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre. www.hpsc.ie

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