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Help for Your COVID Fear, Grief, Anxiety, and Depression

November 6, 2020

Written by Clay Smith

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It’s OK to get support and seek out help for your own mental health during this public health crisis. There is no shame.

Why does this matter?
Fear, anxiety, grief – we are feeling all these emotions since COVID hit. This is on top of the baseline increased risk for depression and anxiety among healthcare providers. The authors note, “For front-line clinicians, sheer force of will cannot sustain us in the months ahead.” What can we do to get support?

Your psych colleagues’ plea – “let us help you.”
The authors suggest several actions that we as healthcare providers can take as we face this pandemic.

  1. “Practice self-care by taking time to eat, sleep, and rejuvenate.” Lean on, “colleagues, coworkers, teammates, friends, and families.”

  2. Don’t let social distancing equal social isolation.

  3. Watch for warning signs in yourself: substance abuse, sleep disturbance, hopelessness, and helplessness.

  4. Don’t ignore these warning signs in your colleagues.

  5. This is the key point. It seems simple, but it’s not – if you’re struggling, ask for help early. Employee assistance programs can make a big difference.

What about the stigma? Bottom line: This is life and death. Also, you can’t give your patients the best quality care if you are depressed and battling suicidal thoughts. And let’s just hit the shame aspect head on – “you are as vulnerable as everyone else to tragedies and stress.” There is no shame, friends. Listen to what your colleagues are saying to you: “As mental health professionals, this is our plea: If you are struggling, let us help you.”

Mental Health Treatment for Front-Line Clinicians During and After the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic: A Plea to the Medical Community. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Oct 6;173(7):574-575. doi: 10.7326/M20-2440. Epub 2020 May 26.

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