Pandemic worsened mental health conditions among healthcare workers

More than half of healthcare workers reported at least one adverse mental health condition tied to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19, new data from the CDC reveals.

The agency surveyed more than 26,000 public health care workers from March 29 through April 16, 2021, to assess their mental health. The survey asked about mental stressors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Of the 53% who reported at least one adverse mental health condition in the previous two weeks, 32% reported depression, 30.3% reported anxiety, 36.8% reported PTSD and 8.4% reported suicidal ideation.

“Public health workers who reported certain workplace practices, such as long work hours and the inability to take time off, were more likely to have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition,” the CDC noted.

Worse still, nearly a quarter of healthcare workers reported feeling bullied, threatened or harassed because of work.

The findings are important because millions of healthcare workers plan to leave the industry after the pandemic, leaving a potentially damaging shortfall of qualified workers.

Adverse mental health conditions are linked to a number of job disruptions, including absenteeism, high turnover, lower productivity and lower morale, according to the CDC. The agency suggested expanding staffing size and implementing more flexible schedules, as well as implementing, evaluating and promoting the use of employee assistance programs to ease some of these burdens. 

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