Hospital staff member wearing a mask while in surgery
Hospital staff member wearing a mask while in surgery

Protecting your mental health and wellbeing as a healthcare worker

It is especially important for health care workers to look after themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.

This article is based on a piece that was originally published on the Beyond Blue website in 2020.

Health care workers may feel extra stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a normal response in these unprecedented circumstances. Such feelings are not a sign of weakness and it’s important to acknowledge this. There are practical ways to manage your mental health during this time, including:

  • getting enough rest during work hours and between shifts

  • eating healthy foods and engaging in physical activity

  • keeping in contact with colleagues, family and friends by phone or online

  • being aware of where you can access mental health support at work

  • if you’re a manager, trying to create mentally healthy work structures.

It’s important the general public recognises the pressure that the healthcare system and its workers are under and takes steps to support them where possible. Following government advice on how individuals can help slow the spread of the virus will support the health care workers who are saving lives and keeping people safe. Our Heads Up website has more information about implementing mental health strategies in healthcare settings.

Seek support

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the outbreak. We encourage people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:

  • activate your support network

  • acknowledge feelings of distress

  • seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.

For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.

Social contact and maintaining routines can be supportive for our mental health and wellbeing. In circumstances where this is not possible, staying connected with friends and family online or by phone may assist. Beyond Blue also has a dedicated page on its forums about coping during the coronavirus outbreak .

Hand-n-Hand provides a free pre-clinical peer support service that matches dedicated, experienced mental health volunteers with healthcare workers who request assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acknowledge feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required.

Beyond Blue has fact sheets about anxiety and offers other practical advice and resources at .

The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.

If you need assistance please visit the dedicated Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service. Trained mental health professionals are available to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, via phone.

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