ISHAKA – Eight hospitals in the country, including Kampala International University (KIU) Teaching Hospital, are conducting a mental health assessment on hospital workers. The assessment is aimed at discovering the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on the mental health of health workers.
This comes after an incident where Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, who treated many coronavirus patients died by suicide in April.
“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” said the father of Dr. Lorna M. Breen, who worked at a Manhattan hospital hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the New York Times.
With this, World Health Organisation (WHO), intervened and laid strategies for health workers to follow, so as to maintain good mental health and also seek psychological help when in need.
“Ensure that staff are aware of where and how they can access mental health and psychosocial support services and facilitate access to such services,” read part of a statement in a document issued by WHO on Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Once the chronic stress and poor mental health are taken care of during this response, health workers will have a better capacity to fulfil their roles.
Among the eight hospitals approved to conduct the assessment study is KIU Teaching Hospital and other hospitals including; Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Western Uganda, Masaka and Mubende hospitals in the central region, Gulu and Lira hospitals in the North and Mbale and Jinja regional referral hospitals in the East.
According to Dr Jimmy Ben Forry, one of the lead researchers and psychiatrist at KIU Teaching Hospital, the study is aimed at identifying the stress factors that come with the pandemic and the lockdown, which came in as a means to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“We want to assess the levels of psychological distress the hospital workers are going through and their effect on the quality of life of the workers,” Dr Forry said.
The assessment is being conducted by use of self-administered forms issued by the hospital on the internet, which are then filled in by health workers.
“Results from the study are expected to be released at the end of this month,” added Dr Forry.
This information will be used to attain and develop measures and strategies to ensure good and proper mental health among hospital workers.
With all the above strategies, managing mental health and psychosocial well-being of health workers during this time is as important as managing physical health, to enable them to fully execute their duties.