Health workers face immense psychological toll from pandemic

Posted 5 days ago

(ABC News) –Dawn seems to be breaking in the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccines provide new hope, cases and hospitalizations have been declining across the country. But as one calamity gradually wanes, another silent crisis is making its way out of the shadows.

Experts say some doctors, nurses and other health workers on the frontlines will have to face a mental health reckoning after being in the trenches fighting the global pandemic.

“We will continue to fight, but we’re exhausted and we’re tired and — mentally, physically, emotionally — just worn down,” Jerusha Robinson, an intensive care unit nurse in Tennessee, told ABC News in a video diary.

Kelsey Copely, a respiratory therapist from Minnesota, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s hard for us health care workers,” she told ABC News. “I’ve seen more deaths these past few months than I had seen in years, and it’s not normal and it takes a lot. It takes a toll on someone’s mental health.”

Health care professionals like Copely and Robinson have forged forward amid unparalleled obstacles as they’ve fought to save lives. Too often over the last year, they’ve been the bridge in heart-wrenching moments when families are forced to say goodbye to loved ones — sometimes over the phone.

“The pandemic has had a terrific strain on nurses,” Dr. Ernest Grant, president of the American Nurses Association, told ABC News.