Addressing Postpandemic Clinician Mental Health

Rachel Schwartz, PhD, Jina L. Sinskey, MD, Uma Anand, PhD, LP, and Rebecca D. Margolis, DO
Submitted: August, 2020

Previous pandemics have seen high psychiatric morbidity among health care workers. Protecting clinician mental health in the aftermath of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) requires an evidence-based approach to developing and deploying comprehensive clinician mental health support. In a narrative review of 96 articles addressing clinician mental health in COVID-19 and prior pandemics, 7 themes emerged: 1) the need for resilience and stress reduction training; 2) providing for clinicians’ basic needs (food, drink, adequate rest, quarantine-appropriate housing, transportation, child care, personal protective equipment); 3) the importance of specialized training for pandemic-induced changes in job roles; 4) recognition and clear communication from leadership; 5) acknowledgment of and strategies for addressing moral injury; 6) the need for peer and social support interventions; and 7) normalization and provision of mental health support programs. The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges that surpass those of previous pandemics, suggesting a significant mental health toll on clinicians. To mitigate the known psychological costs of providing care during a pandemic and recovering from associated experiences, comprehensive institutional and societal infrastructure for clinician well-being is needed, especially as we enter this unprecedented, global postpandemic era. This support should target resilience and stress reduction training, ensure that clinicians’ basic needs are met, provide routine opportunities for social connection, and proactively normalize and deliver mental health care to clinicians.

  • Burnout