Study: Medics attending to Covid-19 patients suffering depression

Monday March 30 2020

A health worker talks to visitors at a Covid-19 testing centre in Sydney on March 23, 2020. Health workers attending to coronavirus patients are reporting high rates of depression and anxiety, a new study has shown. PHOTO | PETER PARKS | AFP

Health workers attending to coronavirus patients are reporting high rates of depression and anxiety, a new study has shown.

The study published Sunday in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that the health workers are risking their mental health to attend to patients.

The study which examined the mental health outcomes of 1,257 workers attending to Covid-19 patients in 34 hospitals in China revealed that a large proportion of them are showing depression symptoms.

From the findings, 50 per cent of the workers showed depression signs, anxiety (45 per cent), insomnia (34 per cent), and psychological distress (71.5 per cent).


The survey done between January 29 and February 3 revealed that female healthcare workers and nurses were the most affected.


“Protecting healthcare workers is an important component of public health measures for addressing the Covid-19 epidemic,” the study concludes.

It states that “[s]pecial interventions to promote mental well-being in health workers exposed to Covid-19 need to be immediately implemented, with women, nurses, and frontline workers requiring particular attention and psychological support.”

Fears that they would infect their family or friends took a toll on them and the fact that they are at higher-than-average risk of contracting the virus.


The situation is likely to be the same in all the countries which have reported the outbreak, Kenya included.

“A pandemic can exert a serious mental health toll on anyone regardless of whether [or not] they work in hospitals. There is a need to take care of our health workers all the time,” said Knun Secretary-General Seth Panyako.


When asked about the safety of health workers, Health CAJ Mercy Mukui said they are following the WHO protocols.

“All deployed health workers are trained on Covid-19, including case management, and use of personal protective equipment. We are also providing psychosocial support to our workers.”

She said the ministry has also rationalised the deployment of health workers by ensuring that the period of this pandemic is taken into account to ensure efficiency and mitigate against burnout.

“There is also continuous discussion of their welfare including motivation, accommodation and psychosocial support based on lessons learnt from other countries.”