Most PH healthcare workers suffered psychological stress due to Covid-19 pandemic – expert

A local study held in 2020 showed that the Covid-19 pandemic had a psychological impact on the majority of Filipino healthcare workers.

At least 70.74 percent of healthcare workers in the Philippines have had anxiety symptoms, while 50.97 percent had depressive symptoms because of Covid-19, said Dr. Evangeline Dela Fuente, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine of the University of the Philippines’ (UP) College of Medicine.

(Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Dela Fuente enumerated the sources of stress and anxiety that were reported by FIlipino health workers.

“Primarily it was fear of becoming infected and unknowingly infecting others. There’s huge concern, of course, for the welfare of loved ones and uncertainty about the availability of support, and the dissatisfaction with health information,” said Dela Fuente in a webinar held by UP on Friday, March 11.

As the country battles with Covid-19 and prepares for a pandemic exit plan, Dela Fuente urged the public, including the healthcare workers, to pay attention to factors that may enhance one’s resilience.

These factors include boosting physical health by getting adequate sleep, practicing aerobic exercise, and mindfulness exercise.

Additionally, she reiterated that verbally sharing one’s thoughts and feelings about personal experiences and burdens can improve wellbeing. In fact, according to Dela Fuente, social connectedness is positively correlated with enhanced emotional regulation.

Dela Fuente likewise stressed that when a mild problem is not addressed, it can become moderate to severe. One can have clinical depression, anxiety disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

“Therefore, I urge you to do a check up of yourselves and if you need help, whoever you prefer to consult with, please do so. Ask for help if you are struggling to cope,” Dela Fuente said.

“Covid-19 brought challenges to our mental health. The end of the pandemic may yet bring challenges. There is a lot to be done, let us begin with ourselves so we can be better prepared to serve others,” she furthered.