What Johns Hopkins employee survey reveals about pandemic's mental health challenges

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore released a report Sept. 23 that sheds light on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of front-line healthcare workers. It also identifies strategies for healthcare organizations to consider to help protect and enhance employee health and well-being.

Data is based on research of employees working at five Johns Hopkins Health System hospitals in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and one Johns Hopkins Health System affiliate healthcare facility. It includes results from a cross-sectional survey (1,189 responses) conducted from July 2020-January 2021 and 73 semistructured interviews from January-March. Workers participating in the research included healthcare providers and direct support services staff, including workers in front-line environmental services, food services and security.

Five findings:

1. Fifty-three percent of survey respondents reported moderate or severe experiences of stress related to the pandemic.

2. Forty-seven percent of survey respondents reported some feelings of burnout.

3. Severe levels of burnout were more common among staff who identified as non-Hispanic Black, less educated, service staff, and/or had financial concerns.

4. Many interviewees reported feeling stressed and anxious, lonely and depressed. 

5. Many interviewees reported broader emotions of fear or worry, shock, irritability and sadness, along with behaviors such as avoidance and "overthinking." 

The authors recommended that healthcare organizations ensure availability of employee support programs for a diverse workforce and make sure employees can access the programs. Employees should also be paid while accessing mental health support, the authors said. They also recommended that healthcare organizations adopt practices that promote psychological safety in the workplace.

Read more about the study here



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