Wellness for Healthcare Workers

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Overview

Healthcare workers have always worked in high-stress environments. But since the COVID-19 crisis began in 2020, healthcare workers have put their own health and well-being at risk in order to protect their communities. This page shares some resources that you may find helpful, whether you’re a healthcare worker yourself or you are looking to support a family member, friend, or loved one who works in the healthcare system.

If you are a healthcare worker, it's important to know that support is available for you, when you need it. Healthcare workers often feel a pressure to push through their own hardships in order to take care of others. Prioritizing your own health helps ensure that stress won’t lead to more serious health concerns, and will also benefit those you interact with. 

Factors that affect the mental health of health care workers

Being a healthcare worker is a demanding job, emotionally and physically. Nurses, palliative care workers, EMTs, physicians, and other healthcare workers are more likely to go through a range of problems, including:

  • Grief and loss

  • Exposure to suffering

  • Exposure to health risks

  • Performing physically demanding work

  • Working long shifts or having unpredictable schedules

Some healthcare workers may also hesitate to seek support for mental health or substance use concerns because of stigma. 

Many of the above factors were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as healthcare workers faced increased workloads, equipment shortages, and increased stress about the risk of personal harm.

The stress that healthcare workers experience may lead to a number of problems, including:

If you are experiencing any of the work conditions or health problems mentioned above, consider trying out the “steps towards wellness” below.

If you need immediate support, you can contact one of our crisis responders. You can speak to them about anything, anytime, for free. Text FRONTLINE to 741741.

Steps towards wellness

1. Enroll in a course for healthcare worker resilience

MindWell offers a course specifically designed for healthcare professionals that will help you build up your well-being and remain calm in a chaotic environment. Lessons are created in a way to offer maximum results in a short amount of time, without adding too much to your already-busy schedule.

2. Connect with your peers

Connecting with other healthcare workers is a great way to find people who understand what you are going through. This Peer Support community offered by Togetherall provides self-guided group courses, individual courses, and other resources to support your well-being.

3. Access resources for grief or speak with a grief coach

As a healthcare worker, chances are that you experience loss more often than most people. You may grieve for patients, or you may feel a sense of loss for your pre-pandemic work environment. If this is something you’re facing, you can call 1-866-585-0445 to speak with a grief coach. For more advice on how to manage grief and loss, you can also try reading this article.

Ways to support healthcare workers in your life

1. Practice active listening

Working in a fast paced environment, healthcare workers may not have the opportunity to process what they’re going through. You can help them do so by creating a space for them to share their experiences and emotions outside of work. Ask them questions about how they’re doing and listen deeply to what they have to say, but don’t prod them or force them to talk if they’re not in a good space for it.

2. Take some work off of their plate

After an entire day of taking care of others, coming home to do more of the same can be exhausting. If you live with a healthcare worker, you can support them by taking on some extra chores and thinking ahead to what they might need when they get home from work.

3. Make safety a priority

Healthcare workers are already operating in an environment of increased health risks. You should minimize their chances of getting sick and increase their feelings of safety by following the most up-to-date recommendations in your area.

4. Give them space if they need it

Understand that due to the current demands of their jobs, healthcare workers may have to spend less time at home. Even when they are at home, they may need time to themselves, to process and heal. In some cases, they might need to distance themselves as a safety precaution. Even though it can be hard, do your best to support them as they take some time for themselves or distance themselves from you.

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