Depression, anxiety, stress and fear were some feelings people in lockdown experienced – but the medical community experienced it tenfold, a recent study in China found…
Training physicians’ daily moods decreased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic, along with an increase in depression and anxiety, the study revealed.
Suicide rates among doctors are reported to be 2.5 times more likely than the rest of the population.
Physician Pamela Wible investigated the high suicide rate among doctors and their families in 2017. Doctors’ increased suicides had been reported since 1858, but the root cause has still not been addressed, she claimed, because doctors are “masters of disguise”, but routinely suffer from burnout and “inhumane” work conditions, often involving sleep deprivation.
A tough cycle of impossible hours and lack of sleep means mistakes will be made, but uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic could increase suicide rates even more.
We bury our emotions and pretend everything is perfect, always putting our patient’sneeds first and neglecting the most critical thing to practice regularly: self-care. Today is #socks4docs day and I’m wearing this colorful socks to help break down the stigma (read more) pic.twitter.com/u63tPsAspl
— Katlego Masupa 🇳🇬 (@Katlego_Masupa) June 5, 2020
Overburdened healthcare systems
With Africa’s already overburdened healthcare systems, Zambia-based doctor Naeem Dalal warned a lack of resources and finances could escalate anxiety surrounding Covid-19 among doctors.
Dalal said over 22% of the world’s burden of disease affects Africa, but the continent only has access to 3% of healthcare workers and less than 1% of global financial resources.
As SA grapples with an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections, the challenges faced by healthcare workers are more significant than ever, said Cipla SA chief executive Paul Miller.
Even though there was a lack of research on mental health in the country, SA studies compared to more developed healthcare systems still indicated high levels of burnout, he said.
SA faces chronic shortage of healthcare professionals. Doctors are 2.5 times more likely to take their own lives. Wear colourful socks for #socks4docs TODAY. Help raise awareness for doctor mental health. @CiplaRSA#caring4ourcarers pic.twitter.com/UfcNBOp9Bq
— SADAG (@TheSADAG) June 5, 2020
But despite burnout, anxiety and depression being common in the medical community, there was still stigma surrounding mental health, even by doctors.
Cipla partnered with the SA Depression and Anxiety Group and launched the #Socks4Docs campaign on Friday, when South Africans wore colourful funky socks, to encourage healthcare professionals to talk about mental health.
“The message of the campaign was that doctors are just like everyone else – simply humans,” Miller said.
The campaign was started by Australian doctor Geoff Toogood, who battled depression. It seeks to reject the stigma associated with mental health and decrease suicide rates among healthcare workers.
Help is available: If you are feeling depressed, suicidal, hopeless
CONTACT SADAG – The South African Depression and Anxiety Group
For counselling queries e-mail: email@example.com
To contact a counsellor between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Sunday, Call: 011 234 4837 / Fax number: 011 234 8182
For a suicidal emergency contact us on 0800 567 567
24-hour Helpline 0800 12 13 14
Nica Richards – Citizen
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