The Covid Syndemic: The Mental Health Crisis Of Mental Health Workers

A syndemic refers to multiple interrelated epidemics happening at the same time. Covid-19 has unleashed and amplified a number of simultaneous personal, social, medical, political, and economic crises. This is the first in a series of articles exploring the impact of the Covid-19 syndemic.     

When we think of frontline health workers battling the pandemic, we often think only of the physicians working on-site in hospital settings. But while most mental health professionals aren’t physically serving on the frontlines of this pandemic, they have been hearing about it in excruciating detail from their patients for almost a year.

As the pandemic continues, so does the demand for mental health services. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic. This figure has risen dramatically from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019. Research from prior economic downturns shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem. Even those who have not been impacted financially or have experienced the loss of a loved one have still had their lives disrupted and live with the daily uncertainty that the pandemic brings. In a CDC survey of 5,412 Americans during June 2020, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of trauma, and stress-related disorder arising from the pandemic (26.3%). Healthcare workers are putting their physical health at risk by caring for Covid-19 patients and their mental health as they endure unprecedented death tolls.

Read the full article on Forbes

Originally published on Forbes on March 9, 2021

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.