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A global call to action to protect the mental health of health and care workers

A global call to action to protect the mental health of health and care workers

Hanan F Abdul Rahim, Meredith Fendt-Newlin, Sanaa T Al-Harahsheh, Jim Campbell

Perhaps more than any time in recent history, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the vital role that health and care workers play in caring for the global population. Yet it has become increasingly clear over the last three years that we – as policymakers, employers and, ultimately, society – have largely failed in our duty of care for these essential workers, particularly with regard to their mental health and wellbeing. Even before the pandemic, challenging working conditions, ethical dilemmas, and high-stress environments were known to increase the likelihood of mental health conditions among this group. The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on health services has exacerbated these issues and has also revealed stark gaps in how most health systems assess, manage and protect the mental health of their health and care workers.

Executive Summary

Maintaining a healthy and productive health and care workforce is not only a moral imperative – it is essential to delivering safe, high-quality, patient-centered care to populations worldwide. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that our health systems are not providing adequate support for the mental health of our health and care workers. This is resulting in a growing workforce crisis that also threatens the delivery of care to entire populations.

This report looks at how policymakers can address the crisis and seize the moment to redesign how health is delivered, for the benefit of all communities. The report is presented in two main sections to examine: 1) the burden of COVID-19 on the mental health of health and care workers; and 2) interventions to support the mental health of health and care workers. The final section presents recommended policy actions