COVID-19 surges threaten healthcare workers' mental health, WHO warns

The World Health Organization is warning about the rising risk of mental health challenges healthcare workers face amid a global surge of COVID-19, The Washington Post reported March 31.

The warning came in the WHO's weekly epidemiological report tracking coronavirus over the seven-day period ending March 28. In the report, the organization revealed more than 3.8 million new COVID-19 cases reported in the past week globally, as well as new coronavirus deaths climbing by 5 percent over the past week compared to the week prior.

Amid the global COVID-19 surge, healthcare workers continue to face mental health challenges, the WHO said, citing studies that show that healthcare workers report higher prevalence of conditions such as anxiety and depression compared to other professional groups.

The WHO specifically cited a study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health of 2,884 healthcare workers from the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. 

Researchers in that study found sleep and burnout may be coronavirus risk factors in some healthcare workers.

In another study cited by the WHO, researchers found healthcare workers reported higher levels of anxiety (13 percent versus 8.5 percent), depression (12.2 percent versus 9.5 percent), and rates of insomnia (38.4 percent versus 30.5 percent), compared to professionals who are not healthcare workers.   

"As the pandemic continues, more evidence has been collected to describe the challenging working and psychosocial conditions [healthcare workers] face daily," the WHO said.

The organization concluded that it is essential healthcare workers be adequately supported to ensure their physical and mental well-being.

 

 

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