D H
Jan 21 ยท Last update 18 days ago.

How will we deal with the long lasting psychological impacts of COVID on healthcare staff?

As the COVID-19 pandemic trudges on it might be a good time for governments to start considering the possible long-lasting after effects of the pandemic on the mental health of medical professionals. Many front line pandemic healthcare workers will have personally witnessed more death during the pandemic than at any other point in their careers. Saving the lives of these patients is the job of medical professionals and experiencing human suffering and loss of life on this unprecedented level could have long-lasting mental impacts on a significant proportion of doctors, nurses and EMTs. Moral injury is a term borrowed from the military and is increasingly being applied to healthcare professions to describe the distress caused by continuous exposure to psychologically disturbing situations. In the medical field moral injury has commonly been described as compassion fatigue, burnout, moral distress or simply trauma, and can lead to or complicate mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and even suicide. What can governments do to deal with the psychological impact of the pandemic on healthcare professionals? How can societies deal with the long lasting psychological impacts and moral injury caused by the COVID pandemic?
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Both moral injury studies and studies of PTSD have shown that vilification and heroification of soldiers contributes to PTSD, and both dynamics have occurred during COVID as medical staff have been the target of COVID conspiracy theory and been held up as the pandemic heroes in many societies. Psychiatrist Jonathan Shay has written extensively about the methods used by the Ancient Greeks to combat soldiers' trauma, for the Ancient Greeks recovery consisted of the communalisation of trauma through a social purification ceremony following battle. Such early forms of group counselling permitting and empowered the survivor to voice and ultimately recover from their trauma. Education and awareness of PTSD and how trauma effects people needs to be at the heart of post-pandemic public messaging campaigns that help society be accepting and not contributing to an unhealthy shaming or glorification of medical workers, while the communalisation of trauma needs to take place in a social setting.

macfound.org/fellows/class-of-2007/jonathan-shay voa.org/dr-jonathan-shay bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2015/2015.08.15 ancient-origins.net/history/how-ancient-warriors-coped-brutality-war-007132

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D H
Feb 18
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Systemic approach

Systemic issues are massively increasing issues of burnout or stress in the healthcare profession and much of this was affecting healthcare professional before the pandemic, the added issue of moral injury posses a huge confounding factor to this dynamic. Of course this is true of many industries, but in medicine stress commonly caused decreased job satisfaction, days off work, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, medical errors, near misses and substance abuse, and will clear affect the quality of care. The level of stress is often multiplied by other factors such as paperwork, student loans and the necessity of overtime, possible to cover the effects of burnout on other colleagues, alleviating stress in the medical industry should be imperative moving forward. Systemic change such as lowering or abolishing student loans to the medical professionals, increasing the pool of staff and decreasing hours could massive reduce stress, this would reduce the effects of moral injury, medical mistakes and the increase the general standard of care.

researchgate.net/publication/327794465_Study_of_Stress_among_Health_Care_Professionals_A_Systemic_Review kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use acupunctureintegrated.com/articles/iatrogenic-harm-in-healthcare-and-the-need-for-systemic-change

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D H
Jan 21
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