Mental Health for Care Workers

part 2

By Lil Cox

If you are anything like me, you are through the “honeymoon period” of more comfortably tolerating our current restrictions, in order to flatten the Coronavirus curve and have moved into the “narky” zone, all whilst continuing your important caring roles. As previously said, never has there been a more important time “to look out” for your personal mental health and well-being, in order to continue the essential work you are doing.

Previously, I discussed the inevitability of feeling under pressure and the benefits of taking extra care of yourself at this time, using pre-existing rehearsed and helpful stress management strategies, in order to ensure you can de stress after shifts, to maintain your mental health and well-being. It is possible, given the length of time we have had to function in our current predicament, that strategies which have been previously helpful are proving to be less effective.

It is useful to contemplate; at what point should you consider seeking more assertive or professional help?

Commonly, workers who remain engaged in their jobs and particularly health and care worker roles, whilst enduring restrictions such as we do now, report a lowered mood and general irritability, over time. This inevitability is as a consequence of the need to continue to function whilst enduring heightened arousal states and thus psychological stress and the need to continue to focus on the job at hand, over a long period of time. Ultimately this may begin to take its toll.

It is possible what was once a general experience of pressure and occasional discomfort becomes more pronounced and long lasting. Other symptoms and signs may present, such as; a greater experience of worry or concern, which is more difficult to disengage from. Concentrating and maintaining attention maybe more difficult.

Periods of feeling agitated, ready and primed to take action, may present more frequently and last longer. Feeling muscle tension, fatigued and generally in poor shape. Experiencing disturbed and poor sleep. Irritability may evolve into the experience of uncharacteristic anger. Feeling emotionally exhausted, more pronounced anxiety and even post traumatic symptoms.

It is possible symptoms may feel like they are taking over your life. You may experience a strong desire to avoid situations and maintaining healthy daily routines, becomes a struggle. It may be that you feel lost, out of control and overwhelmed.

If you identify with any of the symptoms and signs I have discussed, reach out and seek professional mental health assistance, whether through your employer, GP or private mental health practitioner. If you are working in a supportive and mental health aware workplace, ideally a colleague has already reached out to you. Don’t be concerned about what others may think nor how a need to possibly be absent from the workplace for a period will influence the workplace. It is well understood, when workers are able to identify and acknowledge concerning personal symptoms and signs and seek out timely professional help, a complete resolution of symptoms is likely.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a unique and unprecedented scenario for all of us. If previously helpful strategies are no longer effectively maintaining your mental health and well-being, seek help now. 

We need you to!