(AUSTIN, Texas – July 7, 2020) – With COVID-19 hospitalization continuing to rise, Texas hospitals and state public health experts urge everyone to provide emotional support and care to the health care workers on the frontlines in Texas.
“Our hospital heroes have scrubbed up to care for their communities, and we need to rally behind them,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “We cannot underestimate the physical and emotional toll this work takes on frontline workers, and they need support from their employers, loved ones and the public now more than ever.”
Direct care staff are taking appropriate precautions to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 but prioritizing mental wellness and managing stress is critical during these challenging times. THA encourages all Texans to support health care workers and offers the following techniques to help prioritize and protect their mental health as they continue to combat COVID-19.
“Our number one show of support is being vigilant about masks and social distancing,” Shaw said. “We also must address the mental exhaustion and stress the pandemic is having on our frontline heroes. Everyone has a role in this.”
Provide Emotional Support
Through the course of their work, health care workers may feel a wide range of emotions – anxiety, sadness, anger and even hopelessness. When a friend or loved one experiences an unpleasant feeling, it is not a sign of weakness. Understand that many frontlines staff are feeling overwhelmed at this time. First and foremost, listen, and talk to them about how COVID-19 is impacting their lives. Work together to identify the most significant stressors and help identify solutions that are within reach.
Now more than ever, the nurses, doctors and other direct care staff on the frontlines of COVID-19 need the weight and power of Texas behind them. Show gratitude and say thank you to health care workers in your life. Acknowledge and celebrate their strength, bravery and knowledge. Share messages of support on social media. Send thank you notes to health care workers from past or current experiences. Other ways to support health care workers include donating to organizations that provide resources to workers, and offering to help with child care or pet care.
Support Healthy Habits and Self Care
Healthy habits are hard to prioritize when someone is feeling stressed and has little time, but they make a difference. Help health care workers prioritize eating healthy meals, catching up on sleep and taking quick breaks when possible. Encourage breaks and activities that bring joy, whether it be exercising, spending time outdoors or reading a book.
Provide space and quiet for health care workers during breaks or non-work hours. Focusing on issues that can be controlled and avoiding ruminating on the things that are beyond control can help provide a sense of calm. Encourage meditation and thinking about nothing – even if it is only for 1 minute.
Not only do health care workers need to take a break from work when appropriate, taking breaks from the news and social media can help disconnect from the stressors that are beyond control. If you live with a health care worker, dedicate time at home that is unplugged from COVID-19-related content and allow time to recharge. Encourage music or podcasts that will help with unwinding; silence is OK too.
Connect With Expert Help
If a health care worker is struggling to cope with a mental health condition or if a condition is worsening, encourage professional help. Health care providers should be sure to keep their regular doctors up to date about any new or worsening symptoms.
THA’s full list of resources to support mental health and coping with COVID-19 are available from www.tha.org/COVID-19#behavioralhealth.
COVID-19 resources specific to Texas hospitals are available here.