Mental Health of Health Professionals Facing COVID-19

doctors 2020

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Carolina Martins Coelho, fifth period medical student at Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos-UNICEPLAC. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

From 2019 many people have been showing solidarity for the health professionals who work against Coronavirus. Every day, at 8 pm, Spanish people start a round of applause for health workers. The Empire State in New York, activates every night, since March 31, the emergency siren in red and white in order to remember and thank the teams in action. In Italy, medical teams from other countries, who arrived in the country, were received with celebration. On World Health Day, Brazilians went to the windows to show solidarity.

In Brazil alone, there are approximately 3.5 million workers working in the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS) and they are constantly challenged by the lack of personal protective equipment, work overload, and impacts on mental health.

It is noticed that often the emotional factor is strongly influenced by personal issues, but also by technical issues. In the day-to-day life of the professional, the act of hand hygiene, doing the dressing, undressing and other care we have is almost an automatic task, and because it is a big pandemic and requires greater care, this whole process is faced as a novelty and everything new generates a certain amount of insecurity and anxiety. Second point is the lack of sufficient equipment for everyone, if it is used incorrectly, or for a longer time than recommended, it is evident that this will generate losses for the worker. The risk of contamination, if any of these tasks are done incorrectly, is high and this makes professionals increasingly apprehensive, in addition to their work colleagues.

In the family bias, with the leave to work, and the families imprisoned due to quarantine, there can be a physical leave and also an overload of both. For the family the overload of information, not always true for those who follow all types of news. And, for professionals, being fully involved in this scenario without being able to have exhaust valves. The family approach is one of the most important things for the health professional, as it is the main support network and is the primary point of anyone’s life. Many of them without this support end up facing several problems related to mental health such as depression, anxiety, disorders, etc. So, the recommended thing is to try, to promote a virtual meeting with the family members, trying to demystify false news, besides allowing them to communicate about their anxieties and

Finally, it is important to emphasize that the responsibility for combating the coronavirus lies in the fruit of a constructive relationship between those who are ahead and is sworn to serve the population and raise their awareness, and the entire population that can do its part by not running out of PPE stocks, not sharing fake news, remaining in quarantine and having more empathy with others, helping to advance the resolution of the problem.

Bibliographic References:

CDC. Center for Disease Control and Prevention-CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Mental Health and Coping, March 6, 2020. Disponível em: coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/coping.html, acesso em 11/03/2020

IASC. Inter-Agency Standing Committee ( Comitê Permanente Interagências). Diretrizes do IASC sobre saúde mental e apoio psicossocial em emergências humanitárias. Tradução de Márcio Gagliato. Genebra: IASC, 2007.

Organização Panamericana da Saúde. Primeiros cuidados psicológicos: guia para trabalhadores de campo. Brasília, DF: OPAS, 2015

About the author

Carolina Martins Coelho, fifth period medical student at Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos-UNICEPLAC. Constantly searching for knowledge in the medical field, interested in films, documentaries, books, travel and music, involved in volunteer work, academic activities such as congresses and symposia organization, the board of academic leagues and the preparation of academic articles. She always seeks to reconcile academic and personal life and to be learning more every day to be a good professional in the future.

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