Essential workers have the highest rates of adverse mental health outcomes compared to all other employment groups surveyed by the CDC.
Burnout among healthcare workers has been an issue even before the pandemic, but the physical and mental toll of working on the front lines could have lasting mental health implications for months and years to come, according to Dr. Robert Cuyler, the chief clinical officer for Freespira, a prescription digital therapeutic for panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Healthcare folks are so focused on caring for their patients that it’s sometimes after the disaster that you learn about the aftermath,” he told Healthcare Finance News.
As a Louisiana native, Cuyler compared the possible fallout of the pandemic to the months following Hurricane Katrina. He recalled that the mental health consequences of Katrina didn’t manifest for some people until months after the event.
“People can be hyper-focused on their daily function and their daily duty and they make their way through it,” he said. “It’s only afterward that the real extent of the exhaustion, impairment, depression, et cetera really begins to creep in.”
PANIC ON THE FRONT LINES
Beyond the anxiety, stress, depression and loneliness that many healthcare workers have reported experiencing during the pandemic, Cuyler is worried about the risk of healthcare workers developing PTSD related to COVID-19.
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