The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued guidance on how care workers can look after their own mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The WHO warned care workers that managing their stress and psychological well-being during this time is as important as managing their physical health.
It advised care professionals to take care of their basic needs and employ helpful coping strategies, such as getting rest and respite during work or between shifts, eating sufficient and healthy food, engaging in physical activity and staying in contact with family and friends.
The WHO described the coronavirus outbreak as “unique and unprecedented scenario” for many workers, particularly if they have not been involved in similar responses.
“Even so, using the strategies that you have used in the past to manage times of stress can benefit you now. The strategies to benefit feelings of stress are the same, even if the scenario is different,” the organisation said.
The WHO warned that some workers may experience avoidance by their family or community due to stigma or fear.
In this challenging situation, it advised care workers to stay connected with their loved ones via digital means and turn to their colleagues, manager or other ”trusted persons” for social support.
“Your colleagues may be having similar experiences to you,” the WHO continued.
The health organisation also issued advice for team leaders on looking after the mental well-being of their staff.
It said that keeping all staff protected from chronic stress and poor mental health during this response means that they will have a better capacity to fulfil their roles.
The WHO advised managers to ensure good quality communication and accurate information and updates are provided to all staff, and rotate workers from high-stress to lower-stress functions.
It also recommended partnering inexperienced workers with their more experienced colleagues. “The buddy system helps to provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures,” it said.
The organisation also advised managers and team leaders to ensure staff are aware of where they can access mental health and psychosocial support services.