Mental Health Workers: The Invisible Heroes of COVID-19

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During the initial peak of COVID-19, our world scrambled to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to our doctors and nurses on the frontlines. Medical providers around the world were stepping into the role of “unsung hero” as they worked in the trenches day in and day out, trying to save lives and keep our world afloat. Medical staff worked long hours and took the brunt of the mental and physical burnout associated with COVID-19. It is no surprise that months later, their mental health is jeopardized. Trauma, depression, stress, and anxiety can build up over time, festering, until one day, they can no longer be contained underneath the surface. 

The mental health crisis: the second wave of COVID-19

As our country begins to open up, and people learn to adapt to new regulations associated with social distancing and face coverings, we are beginning to see a new, silent pandemic, a mental health crisis. Millions of people are still out of work; isolation, loneliness, increased alcohol use, and school closures all have people stressed and worried. Depression, anxiety, child abuse, domestic partner violence, and alcohol abuse are on the rise.

We are now calling on mental health workers to guide us through this silent pandemic, but mental health workers also experience burnout and mental crises of their own. Therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists have all been called in to help frontline medical workers overcome the emotional and psychological scars they endured while working in the trenches of COVID-19, but who is going to protect the mental health workers when they need help? 

Nobody is immune to the pandemic’s adverse mental health effects

Everyone is affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. Some are affected financially; others are affected physically as their health declined, or they lost loved ones, whereas many are affected mentally and emotionally. The pandemic could be detrimental for those already facing complicated mental health disorders, such as chronic anxiety, trauma, delusional paranoia, and substance use disorders. There are many individuals without the cognitive ability to comprehend the situation. Some individuals with traumatic brain injuries or dementia are without a working memory. Young children most likely do not understand why they cannot socialize with their friends or attend school.