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Research paper highlights mental health risks of doctors during COVID-19

04/05/2020

University of Wolverhampton academics have published a research paper that highlights the mental health risks of doctors and other healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Niall Galbraith, Reader in Health Psychology in the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, has drawn upon his own research and that of the wider literature to write a critical review on health professionals’ mental health. He and his co-authors argue that authorities and healthcare executives should show strong leadership and support for doctors and their families during the pandemic and should make efforts to reduce mental health stigma in clinical workplaces.

The review highlights the abundant evidence for stress and mental health risk in the health professions and integrates this with the research evidence on how previous pandemics and health crises have affected the mental health of doctors.

Dr Galbraith said: “Doctors experience high levels of work stress even under normal circumstances but our research has shown that many are reluctant to disclose mental health difficulties or seek help for them with stigma an oft-cited reason.

“The COVID-19 crisis places additional pressure on doctors and on the healthcare system in general and research shows that such pressure brings a greater risk of psychological distress for doctors.

“Healthcare executives and managers should be aware of the potential for the Covid-19 outbreak to elevate the risk of psychological distress and suicidal ideation in doctors. One of the co-authors of this paper is involved in setting up a support network of psychiatrists with the sole aim of supporting all physicians during this unprecedented event. 

“Workplace interventions which reduce mental health stigma and promote sharing and support for colleagues with psychological difficulties might improve help-seeking behaviour and attitudes. Mindfulness practice has versatility and a strong evidence base in workplace stress reduction and is therefore a viable technique for groups or individual clinicians to manage stress during the Covid-19 outbreak.”

The research paper is available here.

ENDS

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