Emotional Health of Health Workforce
“ the new coronavirus has made all the easy stuff hard”- from the New Yorker
We are living in challenging times.
Of the many population groups, the group most challenged are the providers of essential services in general and the health workforce in particular.
The nearly universal practice of social distancing is not possible for the health workforce as their work involves and requires social closeness. This is the challenge.
It is this situation that makes the emotional health of health workforce a matter of priority.
This blog will address three issues:
Firstly, the recognition of the risks of health workforce;
Secondly, the vulnerable factors in health workforce; and
Thirdly, addressing the emotional health of work force.
There are a large number of written articles(nearly every media is focussing on this topic) .
I have selected few available for free reading from the guardian, New York Times, The New Yorker and the medical dialogues.
I am a frontline doctor: here’s how you can help me,by Ranjana Srivastava, the guardian, April 2,2020
How Doctors Live with the Risks of the Coronavirus and
The Coming Coronavirus Critical-Care Emergency by By Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New Yorker
Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers -What Singapore’s and Hong Kong’s success is teaching us about the pandemic. By Atul Gawande , in New Yorker .
Articles of challenges of Indian doctors in medical dialogues, April 3 , 2020.
I suggest you read them in full (available for free reading).
Here are some salient points:
Dr.Ranjana Srivatsava, from Mebourne, Australia, in her article shares the dilemmas of health personnel.
“Hey, if something happens to you, who pays the mortgage?” asks my eldest child, recently capable of making his own lunch.
“We split it equally”, offers the conscientious middle child.
“There will always be someone to help you,” I lightly reply before leaving for work, casually wondering whether this will be the day I meet the coronavirus.”
Further on in the article she refers to the unique situation of the health workforce as follows:
“As others stay home, doctors and nurses, cleaners, theatre techs and secretaries are coming to work. Our car parks are full. And yet, there’s not even a whisper of self-congratulation – we’re simply doing what we undertook”.
There are a set of articles in the New Yorker( all specially made available free) including the current issue of April 6,2020 with a emotive cover picture. Do visit the New Yorker and read them.
Not every one in the situation develop problems has been an important finding of disaster mental health literature. (I will cover this aspect in detail in the coming blogpost). What is clear is that there are vulnerabilities due to gender, education, personality, spirituality, pre-existing conditions, child trauma experiences, the degree of disruption and most importantly whether they had adequate social supports or received emotional health care.
Dr. Siddarth Mukharjee in his New Yorker article refers to viral load and susceptibility. A very good presentation is the you tube video by Shekhar Gupta.
3 fascinating, simple & key scientific insights on Coronavirus
It is vital to remember the vulnerabilities and resilience.
Addressing the challenges
There are many measures that need attention, like protective equipment, security staff but this blog will only focus on emotional health -how to ‘Strengthening Emotions’.
Against the background of the excessive exposure to stress and vulnerabilities, the positive aspect is the feasibility of a number of individual level interventions that can make a difference.
This I am referring to as “ MY EMOTIONAL HEALTH-MY CHOICE” the purpose of this blogpost.
In the coming days the evidence for the 10 interventions-
5 to strengthen emotional health( exercise, sleep, relaxation, healthy eating, fun time) and
5 actions to minimise distress( social supports, sharing of feelings, writing, music, spirituality) along with how the can be made an essential part of daily life will be in the blogpost.
An important feature of the pandemic response is the enormous amount of articles, free medication sessions, training programmes that are available.
I will cover this in a separate blogpost.
I am concluding this blog on EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF THE HEALTH WORKFORCE, by sharing a one such Webinar talk by McLean Hospital, New York (April 2, 9.30 P.M. IST)
(thanks to Dr.Vihang Vahia for sharing the information)
The talk covers many aspects outlined in this blog and gives three simple methods of ‘regulating emotions’. You will find ‘TIPP’ and ‘SCEREW’ and ‘STOP’ interesting to adapt to your personal life!!
McLean Hospital: Clinician Self-Care in Times of Crisis Confirmation
In conclusion, we are living in the worst of times and we can make to if not the best of times, good for each of us, our families and communities by making MY EMOTIONAL HEALTH-MY CHOICE.
I welcome sharing of experiences on the challenges, vulnerabilities and remedies.