COVID-19: Health Workers Suffered Psychosomatic—Clinical Psychologist
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, many health workers suffered psychosomatic and social problems including fever, cough, weakness, cutaneous manifestation and skin damage, a clinical psychologist, Professor Helen Osinowo, has said.
The reason for this, according to the National President of Nigeria Association of Clinical Psychologists (NACP), was because of the prolonged use of personal protective equipment (PPE), high level of depression, anxiety, insomnia and so on.
Speaking at a webinar series organised by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) recently, she said healthcare workers do not have a supportive social network to fall back on as they might also expose their loved ones to the virus because of their job.
She encouraged organisations to create an enabling environment of trust, psychological safety and empowerment to enable individual workers to communicate patient safety concern to managers.
The online lecture where Prof Osinowo spoke was put together in collaboration with the Employee Assistance Programme of Nigeria and the main focus was on the effects of COVID-19 on the psychosocial state of health workers in the hospital.
While recounting his experience at First Cardiology, Dr Yemi Johnson described handling COVID-19 patients as challenging, stressing that it is easier to work as a team than working as individuals.
“We first asked them if they want to work. We asked them to work as a volunteer. We all came out with scars,” the medical expert said at the event aimed at addressing the challenges faced by medical professionals.
Recounting their ordeals, the staff of the hospital who worked as volunteers said “we prayed, we fasted, we were depressed at deaths of our patients, we were scared of what COVID did to normal lung, we often breakdown in tears, and it’s emotionally exhausting.”
On his part, the Consultant Psychiatrist at Northampton, United Kingdom, Dr Femi Oluwatayo, said it is challenging in the United Kingdom as they are currently experiencing the second wave of the pandemic, and a lot of deaths have been recorded which causes distress at the workplace and can transform to mental disorders.
During her presentation, Dr Bolanle Odulate, a Certified Employee Assistance Professional, advocated for the wellbeing of the mental state of health workers by creating an avenue to talk to someone about what they are passing through, ensuring that employees are in good mind frame. She added that the only asset any organisation can have is the employee.
The Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, said the management of LASUTH is committed to doing all it can to ensure the wellbeing of employees, expressing his happiness about the collaboration between LASUTH and EAPAN for the great initiative.