How to Emotionally Support Your Healthcare Staff During COVID-19

tired healthcare worker

Nothing could have prepared healthcare workers for coronavirus (COVID-19). In the 21st century, a pandemic was the last thing anyone was expecting—let alone the havoc left in its wake as the healthcare industry scrambles for aid, equipment, and countless other resources. This pandemic continues to be a battle for healthcare workers, and fighting at the frontlines are women and men armed with masks, gloves, and prayers. Like most battles, some of the deepest wounds are invisible—scaring the mind in ways that are difficult to heal. For these reasons alone, it’s essential that industry leaders supply their healthcare staff with not only tangible protective gear against COVID-19 but also provide emotional and psychological support. 

While they may not outwardly ask for it, offering emotional support to your healthcare staff and understanding its importance are two of the best things that you can provide your team right now. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why ensuring the mental wellbeing of healthcare workers is essential  for the industry—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—and offer some resources, tips, and best practices on how to continue prioritizing emotional support systems for your staff. 

Acknowledging the Challenges Faced by Healthcare Workers

As a community leader in the healthcare industry, acknowledging the challenges that your staff is currently facing on the frontlines is the first step in providing the emotional support that they need. The 2020 year has been a period of pure chaos for the healthcare industry, and understandably so. While many are aware of the physical battle against COVID-19, the effect that the pandemic has had on the mental wellbeing of healthcare workers has often been overshadowed. During a pandemic, nearly everyone and anyone can expect feelings of anxiety and increased levels of distress. Physicians and healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, however, are even more vulnerable to these negative mental health effects as they try to juggle their work life without exposing themselves or loved ones at home to COVID-19. These anxieties, in addition to waging battle on the frontlines against an unknown virus in a landscape that is constantly changing, are enough to cause anyone extreme psychological distress

Taking Care of Your Staff

To provide the emotional support that your healthcare staff needs, leadership should strive to not only empathize with the current challenges frontline workers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic but also establish a flexible infrastructure. Along with providing the protective gear and implementing strict disinfecting strategies to maintain the health of staff, include emotional support and encourage practices to ward off chronic stress and poor mental health. Here are some of the best ways that you can support the mental wellbeing of your healthcare staff:

Adjust Schedules & Staffing Procedures

Rotate your staff’s hours, within legal limits, from high-stress to low-stress positions throughout the day for mental breaks. Partnering new employees with experienced members of staff can help reinforce emotional support from within and make it easier to monitor morale and stress within teams. Publicly announcing the ability for flexible hours to healthcare workers and encouraging breaks throughout the day is another way you can take the lead in promoting support. 

Monitor Staff Wellbeing 

Creating a workplace environment that encourages open communication is one of the best ways to monitor staff wellbeing while also breaking down barriers that highlight emotional support as a weakness. Organizing forums that allow staff to speak openly about concerns, challenges, and management can help you create an emotional support plan that works for your healthcare staff’s unique needs. This freedom of expression is also a great way to encourage peer support and monitoring for those who may need psychosocial support. 

Offer Psychosocial Support

Psychosocial support can include mental health counseling, education, group support, and many other forms of emotional support services. These are an integral part of the IFRC’s emergency response system, which very closely aligns with the current situation in the  healthcare industry as we continue to battle COVID-19. Sadly, statistics on physician suicide and burnout rate have significantly increased since the pandemic began, making these psychosocial support systems an essential service for those in the healthcare industry. Some of the signs of stress and emotional distress in healthcare workers during COVID-19 include:

  • Irritation, anger, or denial
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling helpless or powerless
  • Lacking motivation
  • Burnout
  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea or change in eating habits 

Consider Outsourcing Support 

DispatchHealth specializes in offering at-home medical care that addresses minor to complex injuries and illnesses, including COVID-19 testing as well as treatment and support. We can provide additional medical and emotional support to healthcare workers who are currently balancing life on the frontlines as well as caring for their family and loved ones. This additional support can also help keep your staff safe from in-person exposure to COVID-19. Instead of requiring patients to take a trip to the nearest ER for their health concerns, our dependable medical teams will arrive at your place of need within a few hours of contact prepared with most of the equipment and technologies found at an ER. During the COVID-19 crisis, we have also gone the extra mile to ensure the safety of both our staff and patients—implementing disinfecting protocols before, during, and after each visit and providing our medical staff with protective equipment. 

Learn more about how DispatchHealth is responding to COVID-19 by contacting us today. Requesting care is as easy as contacting us via phone, mobile app, or through our website

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/managing-mental-health-during-covid-19
  2. https://www.physiciansupportline.com/
  3. https://www.aha.org/behavioralhealth/covid-19-stress-and-coping-resources
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
  5. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_healthcare_workers.asp
  6. https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2020/02/coronavirus-and-mental-health-taking-care-of-ourselves-during-infectious-disease-outbreaks
  7. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44615/9789241548205_eng.pdf;jsessionid=67CB61BC0909988D15D2113EF81367AD?sequence=1

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