We’re Facing a Mental Health Crisis in Healthcare Workers, the Majority of Whom Are Women

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Jessica Zucker

More than 130,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, a novel strain of coronavirus, and cases continue to surge in communities across the country. But for front-line medical workers, particularly those working in emergency rooms and treating COVID-19 patients, the fight has only just begun.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 515 healthcare workers have died so far after contracting COVID-19 – with 34 percent of cases still unreported – a larger, potentially even more deadly crisis is looming. For doctors, nurses, hospital cleaners, and other staff members on the front lines – nearly 80 percent of whom are women, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics – it’s their mental health that has been devastated, and this country is beyond ill-equipped to help them repair it.

“Trauma does not have a timeline, so we will be seeing the ramifications from this for a while and need to be prepared to step up and help in the long run,” Jessi Gold, MD, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, told POPSUGAR. Dr. Gold explained that physicians and other healthcare workers already faced unique challenges, but she expects that “we will see more burnout, depression, anxiety, substance use, and PTSD. I think we will see people leave medicine or have trouble returning to work because of it.”

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Midsection of female doctor helping surgeon wearing surgical glove. Medical colleagues are preparing for surgery. They are standing in emergency room.
Midsection of female doctor helping surgeon wearing surgical glove. Medical colleagues are preparing for surgery. They are standing in emergency room.

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