SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — The medical community is suffering from serious psychological consequences as the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated.
The National Center for Disaster Trauma conducted a survey last year of 319 healthcare workers fighting the pandemic, 49.5 percent of whom demonstrated suicidal risks.
Among the respondents, 41.2 percent were struggling with depression, while 28.2 percent were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and 30.1 percent were experiencing ‘psychological burnouts’ due to prolonged exposure to extreme psychological pressure.
Healthcare workers were exceptionally distraught by how they were being mistreated in private despite encouragement and praise from the public.
“I’ve really worked hard, but all I hear from the hospital is that I don’t have any other choice. That really hurts my self-esteem,” one of the nurses said.
“If they can’t recognize and show respect for our hard work, this becomes no more than an act of exploitation.”
Some healthcare workers were suffering from trauma inflicted by verbal abuse and excessive demands from patients and their guardians.
The ways to address their psychological pain and struggles inflicted during the course of fighting the pandemic, however, are lacking.
“There was nothing in place to help me overcome these symptoms of depression,” said a nurse working for a university hospital in Daegu.
“I recently went through phone counseling with the Korean Nurses Association, and it seemed like the consultant wasn’t a professional.”
Most counseling programs for healthcare workers offered by the government are carried out offline, undermining accessibility and effectiveness.
The National Center for Disaster Trauma had been offering programs for healthcare workers, EMTs, volunteers, and other personnel for psychological recovery.
However, the third wave of COVID-19 in November has led to a dramatic increase in the number of infections, shutting down these programs indefinitely.
Experts call upon the need to ensure accessibility to these programs to sustain the country’s medical system.
“We shouldn’t look at healthcare workers as exceptional heroes, but laborers carrying the same right to labor, safety, and health as we do,” said Kim Myung-hee, a researcher at the People’s Health Institute.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)