In the fight of Covid 19 Pandemic, Are Mental Health Professionals immune to mental health problems?

Mental Health Professionals are not immune to Mental Health Problems.


As we manage the Covid 19 pandemic it is a well known fact that Medical staff are the most affected by associated mental health problems including but not limited to  Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Pre-trauma stress, Post-trauma stress, insomnia and other types of distress.

A study carried out in Wuhan showed that  among the health workers, 50 percent had depression, 45 percent anxiety, 34 percent insomnia and 72 percent distress.

In some countries, Specialist Mental Health professionals are being asked to physically attend to those in Quarantines and in hospitals(front line) to manage the mental health problems in addition to managing those with chronic mental health problems in the community and in psychiatric hospitals.

The question is who then takes care of these front line mental health professionals?

Since in some countries mental health is still stigmatized, the mental health professionals are also assumed to be performing magic which the other specialists primary health care workers do not want to understand and do not want to participate in. Those in quarantines are in some places being pushed to psychiatric hospitals when they could be managed in proper Covid 19 quarantine centers just like the other clients with other commodities.

 The first question is if we are not transferring a diabetic or someone with hypertension why should we transfer someone with a mood disorder from a quarantine area to a psychiatric hospital?

All countries are being encouraged to move  mental health services from specialist psychiatric hospitals to the community  and primary care and not vice versa. Mental health services should also be integrated in primary health care and not pushed to specialist long stay psychiatric hospitals. Primary Health care workers should also be able to manage mild to moderate mental health problems

The second question is who takes care of the mental health professionals mental health in the third world countries? Is it assumed that mental health professionals are immune to mental health problems? Considering the fact that specialist mental health professionals, are fewer than primary care providers, it is my opinion that the few specialist mental health professionals should not be loaded with duties that can be carried out by primary health care workers to avoid burn out. Let the primary health care workers consult the specialist mental health professional as need be but not to load the few mental health professionals with primary care duties as well as specialized care duties. If this is done,, then burn out rates among the few mental health professionals in the third world countries will be reduced

We should all remember that Mental Health Professionals are not immune to Mental Health Problems.

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