Mental Health Challenges Essential Workers Are Facing During COVID-19
Since COVID-19 struck, several containment measures were put in place to help curb the virus. They include working from home, sanitizing, and putting on protective gear such as masks. However, some essential workers were co-opted to work with the government to help in flattening the curve. These workers include drivers, sanitation workers, and health support staff.
With the challenges associated with work during the pandemic, the essential service providers have also been experiencing mental health challenges. Some have even undergone color-based violence, which has had negative impacts on their mental well-being. Therefore, it is necessary to discuss the stress and the mental health challenges that these essential service providers face at this time of the pandemic.
Most of the critical service providers are those that are found in the middle strata of the social structure. In the U.S., most people in this class are the Latinos and Black Americans. Many of these people earn less than the median wage, and they are not entitled to other basic benefits. Additionally, most of these essential workers are not entitled to sick leave allowances and personal leave allowances. The vital workers have continuously reported working to keep their families going for fear of losing their jobs.
These workers are always required to be in close contact with their clients, hence making them vulnerable to COVID-19. Furthermore, they have also missed some important functions such as grieving with their families since most are not entitled to days off duty. It is traumatizing to handle COVID-19 patients without proper and quality gear. Most of the essential workers have found themselves in this situation, which has affected them both physically and psychologically.
These low-salaried workers face many challenges, such as insomnia, burnout, stress, and even nightmares. The daily experience of stressful situations exposes one to other traumatizing situations apart from mental problems. Most of them are also exposed to other physical health problems, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Much had not been known about these essential services providers before the pandemic struck. However, since most of these workers are of color, they have been discriminated against by their families and work conditions. This has exposed them to serious mental problems that they are experiencing.
Increasing the number of essential workers will be of the essence because their shortage had been experienced for years, even before the pandemic struck. As they are at the forefront of saving other people’s health, their mental health should also be considered. Therefore, it is necessary to diversify the essential services so that all the social classes can benefit equitably.
Additionally, the introduction of peer support can be essential to these vulnerable workers. The government, together with other health care organizations, should consider implementing this program. The peer support system will help the workers share more about mental health and how it can be maintained despite the daily challenges faced. Mental Health First Aid training should also be offered to the essential workers to identify and resolve their mental health problems.
Analysts say it is disheartening to biomedical entities like DarioHealth Corp. (NASDAQ: DRIO) who know all too well how working on the frontlines can take a heavy toll on one’s mental health and wellbeing.