Clearing heads: Mental health and healthcare workers
July 1 has always been traditionally observed as Doctors’ Day in India. The day shines the spotlight on one of the most hallowed professions and its practitioners. As the fight against the pandemic continues, we ought to take the time to thank the brave frontline warriors for their hard work. We also need to acknowledge and tackle the issues and challenges that hound these brave heroes.
Even as doctors and healthcare workers continue to fight the good fight, they are also fighting an invisible war. The relentless march of death and gloom that surrounds many of the medical and healthcare centres has taken their toll on these brave souls. They are fighting a losing war against mental health and depression.
Especially in a country like India which has felt the heavy hand of the pandemic, the incidence of mental health issues has grown by leaps and bounds in healthcare workers. Added to the stress of daily hospital routine is the misplaced anger and outburst they have to face from the grieving public. It is no wonder that 80 per cent of doctors face a risk of early burn-outs in their career, with a substantial number declaring that they have hit a wall when it comes to mental health.
So what can we, as concerned citizens, do to alleviate the stress of healthcare workers? First of all, we need to acknowledge the fact that depression and mental health is a real thing. Our country is infamous for brushing aside mental health issues and sweeping them under the rug. Acknowledging that there IS a problem is the first step towards a solution.
Secondly, we need to remember that doctors and healthcare workers are humans too. Any ordinary person who has been through the meat-grinder like they have, would have succumbed early on. Therefore, we need to give healthcare workers a healthy amount of space and understand that they too, are just doing their jobs.
According to Dr Manisha Ranjan, “Enabling doctors to communicate effectively, providing them tangible support from the administration/seniors, mental health problem screening, making quarantine/isolation less restrictive and ensuring interpersonal communication and proactively curtailing the misinformation/rumour spread by the media are some of the potential measures.”
So let us come together for our doctors and frontline health workers who need our support now more than ever.