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New Report: Mental Health and Social Support for Healthcare and Hospital Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Center News


September 23, 2021 – Today the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health released a new report identifying the mental health and wellbeing challenges faced by healthcare and hospital workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, even in the presence of dedicated employee resources being available.

The new report, Mental Health and Social Support for Healthcare and Hospital Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, lays out possible strategies for health organizations to adopt in order to help protect and enhance employee health and wellbeing in everyday practice as well as how to manage the extra pressures in future public health emergencies.

“Although our findings are specific to one academic health system, they may be relevant to other hospitals and health systems,” wrote the report authors. “This window into employee health from the unique stress and trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic can facilitate progress toward health systems that communicate value and prioritize safety for all staff.”

This research aimed to characterize the mental health impact of working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to identify lessons that could help mitigate future mental health impacts.

The research was conducted among employees working at five Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS) hospitals in Maryland and the District of Columbia and one JHHS affiliate healthcare facility, made up of clinical, research, and educational centers.

The report includes results of a survey fielded from July 2020-January 2021 based on 1,189 responses and 73 semi-structured interviews from January-March 2021. Among the findings:

  • Over half (53%) of the survey respondents reported moderate or severe experiences of pandemic-related stress.
  • Burnout was common, with 47% of the respondents reporting some feelings of burnout.
  • When discussing their mental health, many interviewees reported feeling stressed and anxious, lonely, and depressed.

Based on the findings, the authors recommend multiple strategies and approaches for health organizations to explore, including:

  • Making available various levels and types of employee support programs for a diverse workforce.
  • Ensuring employees can access, and are paid while accessing, the mental health support they need.
  • Adopting practices that promote psychological safety in the workplace for the entire workforce.
  • Instituting the structural changes necessary for close and ongoing attention to communication, including better relational coordination among roles.
  • Utilizing mechanisms to solicit feedback from nonclinical service staff regularly about their perceptions of specific impediments to inclusion in the health system’s mission.

You can access the new report here.