Dear Healthcare Professional,
In the light of recent media reports on the mental health of doctors, we would like to refer to the Medical Protection Society’s (MPS) urgent appeal to all healthcare providers last week: The association urged all government and private healthcare providers to plan now for the mental healthcare support our doctors will need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The appeal from the Medical Protection Society’s (MPS) came after the organisation surveyed 346 South African doctors in May this year. A third of the respondents said their psychological well-being was weaker than in the previous two weeks. They indicated the following concerns that had the most significant impact on their well-being: the health of family members and friends (60%), finances (54%), their own health (42%), the health of their patients (40%), family or household responsibilities, and shortage of work (both 39%).
Dr Volker Hitzeroth, a legal consultant for MPS, said that adrenaline will be carrying many health workers through this pandemic, helping them to cope despite “the daily exhaustion and tragedy.”
“It is when the crisis recedes, and there is time to reflect that the accumulated stress and trauma may surface – this is when health workers are most at risk and in need of support.”
According to the MPS, government and private health care providers should now be actively planning for this time, and these plans must include specialist psychiatric and psychological care for healthcare professionals struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In a recent eNCA-interview, Dr Hitzeroth explained that respondents reported struggling with resilience in that they have difficulty bouncing back after a workday. He warned that a decrease in resilience amongst our health workers is problematic for the patient care they provide.
Burnout was another concern associated with respondent’s decrease in resilience. Hitzeroth warned that burnout could deteriorate further into other serious mental health problems like negativity, depression, and anxiety.
“If we don’t act now, many doctors will become burnt out and disillusioned, or continue with chronic mental health conditions — both of which put the safety of themselves, their families, and their patients at risk.”
Many others may sadly choose to leave the profession,” he warned.
At Life Path Health, we understand that the mental well-being of our doctors is especially vulnerable at the moment. Our multi-disciplinary treatment teams are always prepared to provide quality mental health care to our health workers. We echo Hitzeroth’s words: “It is now time to care for the carers.”
Watch the full eNCA-interview with Dr Volder Hitzeroth here: