A Global Call to Prioritize Mental Health for Health Workers
This post was originally published by the Frontline Health Workers Coalition.
How many times in the past week have you felt stressed or overwhelmed at work? Stress in the workplace happens—especially when you feel passionate about your job. This is especially true for health workers around the world. A new report published in collaboration with the World Health Organization reports that a quarter of healthcare workers surveyed experienced symptoms of depression, burnout, and anxiety.
Today is World Mental Health Day. Many of you will have resources at your fingertips to refocus, and energize yourself. Now, imagine how you would manage these moments without them?
This year, the United Nations is advocating for mental health as a global priority for all. The Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) is firm in its belief that mental health services should be available to all and joins the UN in its call to action.
In Peru, one of five countries CMMB operates in locally, the Ministry of Health reported that more than half of health professionals presented symptoms of depression during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even before the pandemic, CMMB saw firsthand the impact of stress, burnout, emotional distress, and other mental health issues among health workers in the rural, historically poor areas of Peru. In these communities, mental health resources are not widely available. That’s why CMMB partnered with the Johnson & Johnson Foundation to prioritize mental health resources for these health workers. The initiative was launched before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it became in our response efforts as frontline health workers provided compassion and care to patients during unimaginable circumstances.
CMMB continues to strengthen its support of mental wellbeing among supported frontline health workers through workshops, tools, and tips, including how to encourage time for “Active Breaks”—a practice that helps health workers self-regulate their minds and bodies We also are making sure frontline health workers feel empowered to continue accessing resources, not only for themselves—but to share with their communities as well. Over the project’s timeline we’ve reached over 650 health workers and more than 2,700 mothers in the community with mental health resources.
Two Exercises to Better Your Mental Health
Here are two simple exercises from CMMB’s mental health program to better your mental health today and every day. They were developed with psychologists and shared with midwives and nurses at CMMB-supported health facilities in Peru.
- Mindfulness Through Reflection
Set aside time each morning and ask yourself the following questions. End each reflection with a deep inhale and exhale. Wait ten seconds. Then move on to the next question.
- What is the best thing I can hope for today?
- What am I willing to give today?
- What do I have to be happy about?
- What excites me most about my life right now?
- What can I learn?
At the end of day, repeat the same exercise with the following questions.
- What did I enjoy most today?
- What have I given and received?
- How did today make me better?
- What did I learn?
- Mindfulness Through Journaling
Start a notebook to write down one positive thing you experience each day. Before jotting it down, ask yourself these questions:
- What happened that made me feel good?
- Who was around me at this moment? What did they do or say that contributed to my feelings?
- What did I learn?
When you feel down, overwhelmed, or stressed, read your journal entries to remind yourself that you are awesome, that you accomplished a lot, and that you are capable of doing great things.
Thank You, Frontline Health Workers
Your work is essential, and our gratitude is great. CMMB remains committed to prioritizing mental health for all.