Mental health status among health workers in Nepal during COVID-19 pandemic (Policy brief)
Health workers facing stigma are at higher risk of mental health outcomes, a study has shown.
A cross-sectional web-based survey conducted between April 26 to May 12, 2020, in Nepal shows that, health workers who faced stigma were significantly more likely to have anxiety, depression, insomnia, and COVID-19 related fear as compared to those who did not face any stigma. Study shows that, health workers who had a previous history of medication for mental health problems had a higher likelihood of having anxiety, depression, and insomnia as compared to those without previous history.
The team also found that nurses had a higher chance of having anxiety, and COVID-19 related fear as compared to other health professions, inadequate precautionary measures in the workplace were associated with higher odds of having anxiety and depression as compared to those who had adequate precautionary measures. Similarly, COVID-19 related fear was positively significant among health workers working in the affected district as comparison to those working in non- affected district.
Furthermore, study identified that health workers who were younger and aware of government incentives for health workers during COVID-19 were significantly less likely to have depression as compared to older and non-aware of such incentives. The Janajati ethnic group had higher odds of having anxiety and insomnia as compared to the Brahmin/Chhetri ethnic group. Similarly, those who had less work experience had lower odds of having insomnia as compared to those with higher work experience. Presence of a family member with chronic disease was significantly associated with the presence of COVID-19 related fear.
A total of 475 health workers working in public and private health facilities and involved in COVID-management have participated in the study.
The researchers of the study recommend to promote public awareness for reducing the stigma faced by health care workers and there should be a good support system in the workplace including the provision of adequate protective measures, incentives, and management of workload. Special support might be required for nurses to reduce their psychological distress.
The study suggests that family support for health workers having family members with chronic disease and those with a previous history of medication for mental health problems should be encouraged.