Health Care Workers’ Silent Scream

As the prospect of a second stimulus bill in 2020 dwindles each day and the U.S. faces a post-Thanksgiving surge on top of a surge, the mental health crisis among health care workers is coming into stark relief.    

Nightly displays of altruistic cheering and clapping for health care workers have given way to stigmatizing attitudes. In a recent survey, nearly half of respondents (47%) said they do not want to be around health care workers who treat COVID-19 patients. Nearly a third (31%) said health care workers who treat people with COVID-19 should be separated from their families.

Front line health care workers feel unheard and are experiencing increased fear and anxiety induced by pressure to act in ways that are beyond reasonable expectation

Media praise and expressions of gratitude co-opted by marketing departments have diverted attention away from the imbalance that persists between demands and resources in hospitals across the country.

Doctors have reported feelings of burnout at high levels that is compounded by high rates of sleep disorders among health care professionals. The extreme mental and physical exhaustion felt among health care professionals is pushing many past their breaking points.

Some health care workers have expressed discomfort with being labeled as “heroes” and the accompanying heroism narrative that overshadows the issue that health care workers are not having needs met.

A public narrative that positions doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic as heroes has oversimplified the complexity of the situation and enables stakeholders to shirk their responsibility to support workers.