New data reveals extent of mental health impact on healthcare professionals across the country

Health Industry Hub | October 9, 2020 |
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Medical News: To mark World Mental Health Day on October 10th, national peak body Mental Health Australia, has released survey results on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals across the country.

The research looks at how the pandemic has affected healthcare professionals on a personal level, and what strategies they have used to maintain mental health and wellbeing over the past six months.

The Selfcare In Healthcare Coalition has partnered with Mental Health Australia to promote mental health awareness in the healthcare industry, including the Pharma, Biotech and MedTech sectors, for World Mental Health Day 10/10.

As industry professionals in these three sectors interact and collaborate regularly with the broader healthcare industry, including healthcare professionals, it is crucial for them to recognise and respect the unprecedented human impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications on mental wellbeing.

Market Research Results

Over 70% of healthcare professionals stated that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their mental health and wellbeing in a negative way. 4 out of 5 say that working in healthcare during the pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace.

According to the research, a social support network of family and friends has had a positive effect on healthcare professionals. Over half (54%) of survey respondents believe their friends and family have been extremely supportive, and 26% have reached out to a trusted friend or family member for mental health support and help.

Commenting on the research results Dr Leanne Beagley, CEO of Mental Health Australia, said “The research results highlight the importance of staying connected with the people in our lives during these difficult times. When we think about healthcare professionals, we mistakenly believe that because they are in the health sector they must be looking after themselves. It’s a common misconception, but the truth is they need our support now more than ever. This is something we need to keep in mind on World Mental Health Day this year.”

Of the 255 survey respondents who work in the healthcare industry, 67% say that working in the healthcare industry during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on home life.

Almost half (49%) have not sought specific mental health support, but there were a variety of activities respondents took part in to maintain good mental health.

Exercising outdoors (52%), cooking more and eating well (40%), spending more time with family and friends (37%), taking part in at least one recreational activity per week (34%), learning a new skill (22%) and downloading a mental health app (18%) are just some of the ways healthcare professionals have been managing their mental health and wellbeing over the past six months.

Melbourne based pharmacist, Ms Helen Lowy, is Chair of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia’s Mental Health Leadership Committee. She shared her personal experience of working during the pandemic.

“I have noticed that my emotions shift from day to day. They have included anxiety about adjusting to rapidly changing priorities, stress associated with problem solving in an environment of uncertainty, and grief associated with working in different teams. Approaches that have helped me shift from surviving to thriving include, acknowledging that these responses are a normal reaction to the perceived threats of the coronavirus pandemic and recognising that these feelings will pass. I choose carefully what I focus on, minimising exposure to social media and instead focus on facts, information and what is within my sphere of influence.

“I pay particular attention to how I eat, play and sleep. For example, creating healthy meals with my son during home schooling, walking our Westies daily and switching off from responding to emails well before bedtime,” said Ms Lowy.

Dr Beagley said “Technology has played a vital role in keeping us together while staying apart and it is great to see so many of us are utilising these functions to stay connected. If you have a person in your life working in the healthcare industry at the moment, take time this World Mental Health Day to reach out to them and make sure they are doing OK. They could seem like the most resilient person you know but they need your support and compassion just as much as the rest of us.”

When asked about the specific mental health impacts, 70% cited experiencing prolonged tiredness and fatigue, 57% now have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, and 42% have been experiencing mood swings or find themselves over-reacting when faced with minor issues.

Some additional strategies respondents use to beat the COVID-19 blues included spending time with pets, giving themselves a break from social media and the news, taking sick days as needed, sticking to a routine, taking nutritional supplements and reducing their alcohol intake.

Commenting on the research results RACGP spokesperson, Dr Billy Stoupas said “I hope these survey results act as a reminder for health workers to check in with themselves and take care of their wellbeing – and know that help is there for you if you need it, you can reach out to colleagues, loved ones, and support services. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made this year particularly challenging for GPs and other health workers on the frontline, we know mental health stigma persists in our profession.

“We need to keep fighting this and embrace the fact that we are human and sometimes we need help, and that’s perfectly okay. I would also encourage every healthcare worker to use World Mental Health Day as a reminder to seek out a regular GP who can provide ongoing support and work with you to manage your physical, mental and emotional health. Taking care of our own health ultimately better equips us to safely care for others,” concluded Dr Stoupas.

How can you join the #selfcareinhealthcare movement?

Selfcare In Healthcare is a coalition of healthcare industry partners supporting the mental health and wellbeing of industry professionals.

Organisations: Help us build awareness of Selfcare In Healthcare through your owned media channels in your organisation. Participate in a bi-partisan manner by sharing content or tools through the Selfcare in healthcare Linkedin page  – we’re in this together!

  • Supporting partners: Medicines Australia, AusBiotech, Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA), Research Australia, ARCS Australia, Palin Communications, 4Sight and VIVA! Communications

Individuals: Follow the Selfcare In Healthcare LinkedIn page and share it with colleagues in your organisation or network, share your personal stories via this LinkedIn page and start a conversation with your peers and colleagues.


Hashtags: #selfcareinhealthcare #mentalhealth #inthistogether

Co-founders: Peter Stephenson (West 53rd St Digital), Rozalina Sarkezians (Health Industry Hub) and Wai Kwok (Orchard).

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