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Health workers in 11 Latin American countries show elevated rates of depressive symptoms, suicidal thinking, and psychological distress, according to the results of a study led by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) in collaboration with the University of Chile and Columbia University.

The report, “The Covid-19 HEalth caRe wOrkErs Study” (HEROES), shows that between 14.7 and 22 per cent of health personnel interviewed in 2020 presented symptoms consistent with depressive episodes, while between 5 and 15 per cent of personnel said they had thought about suicide.

The study also reports that in some countries, only about a third of those who said they needed psychological care received it.

“The pandemic increased the burden on health personnel, and in countries where the health system collapsed, staff endured exhausting workdays and ethical dilemmas that impacted their mental health,” said Anselm Hennis, Director of PAHO’s Department of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health. “The pandemic is not over. It is essential to care for those who care for us,” he stressed.

HEROES consisted of interviews with 14,502 healthcare workers in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Uruguay, and involved academics and researchers from dozens of institutions in those countries.

The need for emotional and economic support, concern about infecting family members, conflicts with families of infected persons under care, and changes in regular work duties were some of the main factors affecting the mental health of health personnel, the study noted.

Stressed out by Covid  Trinidad & Tobago Express Newspapers


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