By Puja Gupta
New Delhi, Jul 1 (IANS): On National Doctor's Day we take a look at the toll the pandemic has put on out healthcare systems and doctors who have to deal with it. After being in the crosshairs of the COVID-19 for nearly two years now, the crisis is a test for one's mental health, especially, the doctors and frontline workers. They face an immense level of stress daily, which has gradually put their mental health in jeopardy; they are experiencing symptoms of depression, insomnia, and psychological distress.
"Doctors not only suffer the anxiety of caring for the patients, adhering to the ever-changing medical protocols, but they also put themselves in a situation where they voluntarily isolate themselves from their families for months," says Dr. Deepak Verma, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones."
The erratic work schedules, risk of exposure to infection and limited interaction with family members and loved ones have made frontline healthcare workers suffer from anxiety, depression, burnout, insomnia and stress-related disorders. Therefore, it becomes essential to work towards the lessening of their mental health problems.
Keeping in touch with their families and loved ones is the what most doctors say help them stay calm even after working non-stop for long hours.
"Even though burnout and depression are quite common among doctors, they are taking small steps to deal with the issue. Staying in touch with their families even during duty also helps them calm down. While these medical workers are working relentlessly to save people's lives amid the pandemic, very little has been done to provide them with institutional support so that they can seek out mental health treatment." Dr. Verma shares.
Dr. Aswati Nair, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, New Delhi have similar views. She says: "When you are going through such challenging times, it's essential that as a healthcare professional taking care of myself can better equip me to take care of others. We make sure that we are connected with our family and friends through social media, phone. It's not only the healthcare workers who are facing the brunt. Everyone in society is going through the same mental health conditions. So, when we counsel a patient or a family member through phone calls or video chats, it's also making us feel less isolated. We also perform some stretching exercises in the middle of our OPDs."
Many doctors say that to unwind, they take small breaks in between and a stroll inside the corridor of the hospital while taking care to adhere to all public health protocols.
"Doing indoor exercises like yoga and running on the treadmill also help the doctors improve their mood and sleep quality. Some doctors also practice mind-calming exercises such as mindfulness and meditation are some that help them avoid stress during such unprecedented times," Dr Verma shares.
Dr Manisha Ranjan, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida feels that even doctors can work upon their mental health by taking care of their own health, doing meditation and taking a break from the news on media and social media.
"Enabling doctors to communicate effectively, providing them tangible support from the administration/seniors, mental health problem screening, making quarantine/isolation less restrictive and ensuring interpersonal communication and proactively curtailing the misinformation/rumour spread by the media are some of the potential measures," she concludes.