3 min read

Health Check!!  How are you feeling?

Stressed Nurse

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting significant psychological pressure on all health care workers.  Unprecedented demand on your time and skills can make it hard to take time off, let alone get enough time to catch up on sleep.

Even when taking all precautions, there is a constant worry about being exposed to the virus, and unknowingly spreading it to patients and families. Many health workers have to avoid contact with vulnerable family members, causing further social isolation.

Intense media scrutiny and a lack of understanding from the community, including hostility at times, adds to the stress.

Feeling under pressure is normal in the current situation. But these compounding pressures can lead to more serious anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout.  Looking after your mental health and psychosocial wellbeing is important to help you cope in the longer term. 

This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon and if one more person mentions “resilience” you will probably want to hurt them.

 

Keeping mentally healthy

Look after your health

Exercising and eating well help us stay physically and mentally healthy.

Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies, such as the use of alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing.

Smiling sporty woman running outdoors in park

Take breaks

Be kind to yourself, and take breaks during your shifts, even if it is just a few minutes to catch your breath. Managers and supervisors should ensure staff take regular breaks to reduce stress.

Between shifts, get as much rest as you can, and try to take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. Managers and supervisors should make sure staff have enough time between shifts to rest, sleep and prepare for the next day.

Medical students taking a break on the steps at the university

Connect

Keep in regular contact with family and friends, even if you are isolating, through:

  • video chats
  • phone calls
  • online groups

Talk about your shared experiences with your colleagues or manager — they are going through the same thing and can offer valuable support.

Managers and supervisors should encourage staff to express any concerns about their mental health, as it might indicate broader issues across their workforce.

Seek support

It’s important to share your feelings with your family, friends, and colleagues. But if you are feeling anxious or depressed for an extended period, see a health professional.

Doctors, and other health care providers, including psychologists, can consult via video or phone. Find out more about telehealth options, or find mental health support contacts.

As a manager or supervisor, if a staff member tells you about the mental health challenges they are experiencing, help them find support, including at Head to Health.  It is important to respect the privacy of staff who are dealing with complex personal and mental health issues and might not wish to discuss these at work.

Young woman talking with psychologist about her problems

Support contacts

Find a full list of mental health support contacts