Health care workers are "second victims" of COVID-19
Doctors and nurses never shy away from helping those in need, even when it puts their health at risk. However, during the pandemic, it's not only their physical health at risk but their mental health too.
Being a healthcare provider is always high risk and full of stress, but experts are saying because of COVID-19, those risk factors are amplified. Our health care workers are becoming the "second victims" of the crisis. Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the term "second victims" refers to those experiencing trauma related to a patient's care.
"You're talking about a vulnerable population of people. I mean, death by suicide among the medical community and within EMT and emergency workers, it's the highest among medical workers. You know, there's a lot of stress," Dr. Gupta said.
Hospitals around the country have been running at or over capacity. Work hours have increased, supplies and protective gear have been in short supply, or at times non-existent, and yet healthcare workers are expected to give every patient 110%. Because of how contagious the disease is, patients often aren't allowed to have contact with their loved ones, putting their doctors and nurses in the position to comfort them as well.
Many in the health care industry have also decided to distance themselves from family members to keep them safe.
"Significant psychological toll of that as well. Not just for themselves in terms of am I safe, did I contract the virus, was I just exposed. Then going home, potentially exposing it to others," Dr. Gupta said.
If you or someone you know is suffering or needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It provides 24/7 support for people in distress and their families.