With the chaos the coronavirus outbreak has put the world into it is easy to forget that the ones fighting and assisting this pandemic are human too. This means, that like patients, doctors and other medical personnel have been impacted while carrying out their duties. Besides, the physical threat of being affected with the virus, they also deal with mental health issues that come with such great responsibility of needing to make difficult choices and operate under intense pressure.Such decisions can include, how to reconcile their own physical and mental health care needs with those of patients, how to match their obligation and responsibility towards family and friends with those to patients, and how to provide treatment to all chronically unwell patients with restricted or insufficient resources.
Moral injury in medical personnel
This can take a toll on any doctor or staff involved. They have to live with decisions that may not go with their moral code with may result in moral injury. Moral injury can be characterized as the psychological distress resulting from behavior, or lack thereof, that violates the moral or ethical code of someone. Unlike typical disorders of mental health such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, moral injury is not a mental illness; ithose who experience moral injury will possibly have negative thoughts about themselves or others which can further lead to mental illnesses like depression, suicidal thoughts and extreme feelings of guilt or shame. The chances of developing this may vary from person to person but not one is invulnerable to it. But with proper support for our medical personnel, its intensity can be reduced.
The risk of mental health issues
The risk of mental health issues can be reduced by adequately training the workforce for the role, the associated difficulties that come with it and giving them a complete and frank evaluation of what they will face. Group leaders should help employees make sense of the morally difficult decisions by holding conversations and discussions on the emotional and social problems presented by patient care. If the distress faced by the staff is extreme or recurrent they should be professionally assisted or referred to professional mental health care for more serious cases. Routine support services (such as peer support programs) accessible to health care workers could include a review on moral injuries, as well as awareness of other mental illness causes and other specifics that they may need to know
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advises intensive supervision of staff to ensure the recognition and access to evidence-based care of the minority who are unwell. Healthcare administrators in supervisory roles must understand the difficulty posed on workers and reduce the psychological danger involved in coping with challenging dilemmas, and resource administrators must allow them the opportunity to do so.