The front-liners are hailed as heroes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but many of them actually don’t feel like it.
Instead, the agony, suffering, and death that they have been witnessing from the beginning of this epidemic have taken a toll on their mental health and make them feel besieged and traumatized.
According to Nina Wells, a nurse practitioner and the president of the Service Employees International Union Local 121RN in Pasadena, California, tragedy is an indissoluble part of the job of medical professionals, however, the relentlessness of the COVID-19 virus outbreak is something beyond than anything they have ever seen.
“It is the vicarious trauma that is never-ending with this pandemic. And it’s from all angles, not just the disease itself. It’s from the poor management, the lack of supplies, the lack of staffing ― it just goes on and on,” Wells told. “You get up and you do it again, day after day, without any reprieve, without any resources — for the most part — and it’s just mental cruelty.”
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, in the U.S., there have been more than 6.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 198,000 deaths. While some people died at home, most of the deaths occurred in nursing homes, hospitals, and other health facilities where doctors, nurses, and other medical staff are the only witnesses to patients’ final moments.
A Physicians Foundation survey released this month found that 58% of doctors now say they frequently experience burnout, while half of the physicians have had feelings of “inappropriate anger, tearfulness or anxiety,”, and 13% of doctors have sought mental health care during this epidemic.
Erin McIntosh, a nurse in Riverside, California, told “You can say we’re ‘heroes’ ― I don’t particularly like that term ― but we’re definitely not treated as such”.