Rogers Behavioral Health

The help healthcare workers need due to COVID-19

Posted on 04/27/20 12:51:pm


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When the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines could still be dealing with the impact. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that during the coronavirus outbreak in China, nearly one in every two healthcare workers reported clinically concerning levels of depression and anxiety, and 71% reported significant psychological distress.

The impact of trauma

“Healthcare workers are essential for battling the virus,” says Chad Wetterneck, PhD, clinical director, Trauma Recovery Services at Rogers Behavioral Health. “But while they’ve been trained to deal with a crisis and put themselves in harm’s way, the ongoing nature of COVID-19 combined with the risk of being infected, potentially transmitting it to their loved ones, and even losing their own lives puts them in danger of experiencing symptoms of trauma,” he explains.

Trauma can occur with exposure to perceived or actual death or loss. It typically causes a variety of reactions including fear, guilt, shame, sleeplessness, nightmares, anxiety, and emotional numbing. Social distancing and the isolation many healthcare workers are resorting to in order to protect family and friends adds to the stress they’re already dealing with.

“They’re losing their natural support system,” says Dr. Wetterneck. “Not being able to be physically around people who love and support you could evolve into lack of emotional connectedness and not sharing or processing with anyone what’s being experienced on the job. Rather than internalize what is going on at the hospital or clinic because it’s not pleasant to think about, healthcare workers need to be talking about it.”

Dr. Wetterneck shares what healthcare workers can do to maintain mental health during this challenging time.


  1. Identify support. Keep a mental list of positive and nurturing relationships to prevent feeling alone.
  2. Maintain relationships. Healthcare workers are taught they shouldn’t talk about their day or bring the stress of work home with them. Given all the unknowns of the pandemic, they are forced to sit with a lot of uncertainties. It’s important to maintain the quality of relationships to ensure healthy emotional connections.
  3. Coping skills. Identify the normal strategies to deal with stress; these will continue to be helpful during the pandemic. Be sure to reserve time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to continue to exercise, do yoga and meditation, read or other helpful ways to lower high-stress levels.
  4. Stay engaged. Connecting with communities is more important now than ever especially while working long hours and being physically separated from family and friends. Consider taking them online by scheduling virtual group meetings or phone calls.
  5. Remember, we will get through this together. Eventually the pandemic will end, and life will return to a new normal.


Find help at Rogers

If you or a loved one are struggling with trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Rogers offers clinically proven and compassionate treatment throughout the country. Call 800-767-4411 or request a free screening.


Call 800-767-4411 or go to to request a free screening.