COVID-19: Recommendations and resources for healthcare workers

The COVID-19 pandemic is unsettling: it brings about uncertainty and forces change upon us. Therefore, evidence-based resources are being put together to help everyone manage possible negative mental health effects (such as stress and anxiety) as well as to strengthen psychosocial wellbeing. The National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) has collected recommendations and freely accessible resources for healthcare workers.

Recommendations for healthcare workers*

  • It is normal to feel under pressure in the current situation. Feelings of stress and anxiety do not reflect an inability to perform your job or a sign of weakness. Also, the high demands may lead to feelings of inadequacy of job performance. Considering your mental health in these times is as important as thinking about your physical health.
  • Take care of yourself as much as possible, try to use helpful coping strategies such as sufficient rest, regular breakes, nutritious and healthy food intake, physical activity, and staying in contact with family and friends. You know which coping-strategies work best for you.
  • However, try to avoid unhelpful strategies such as consumption of alcohol and tobacco use, as they may worsen your mental and physical well-being. Additionally, try to limit usage of TV, internet and social media concerning the covid-19, but keep up to date with factual information
  • Keep in touch. Some healthcare workers may experience avoidance and additional isolation from family and their community because of stigma and fear. This can make the situation even more difficult. Therefore, try to actively stay connected with loved ones online and consult colleagues or your manager for social support. Colleagues may have similar experiences and the exchange will benefit both of you.
  • Do not blame yourself if you feel overwhelmed and the feelings of stress continue to increase. Past experiences and pressure may affect your well-being and put an additional strain on you.
  • Reach out if you notice changes in mood (irritability, feeling low and anxious, prolonged tiredness) it may be more difficult for you to relax and unexplained physical complaints may arise (e.g., body pain). Approach someone and actively seek help for appropriate support.
  • Learn how to provide support for patients or people who are affected by the corona virus and know where to refer them for available resources as they may require mental health and psychosocial support: consult Psychology first aid

*based on WHO (2020), Greenberg et al. (2020), IASC (2020), and ADAA (2020)

Resources for healthcare workers*

  • Röda Korsets stödtelefon under coronakrisen
    If you feel anxious and are worried about the coronavirus you can call 0771-900 800 to talk about your feelings, get advice on how to manage them, and receive more information about the pandemic from people educated in psychological first help.
  • Kyrkans SOS
    You can contact the Swedish church via phone (031-80 06 50) or e-mail to confidentially talk to compassionate people who are trained to provide emotional support in difficult situations.

  • Självmordslinjen
    If you have suicidal thoughts or know someone who does, do not hesitate to contact: 901 01 to reach the suicide hotline of Mind, an association working for mental health with volunteers trained to support you in these situations.
     
  • Riksförbundet för SuicidPrevention och Efterlevandes Stöd (SPES)
    If you know someone who has taken their life, you can contact this hotline (020 - 18 18 00) to talk to someone who has also lost someone by suicide.

Mental-Health Apps

Meditation and relaxation, since mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress and improve sleep.

  • Headspace (two-week free trial)
    This app gives tools to practice mindfulness and meditation for both beginners and experienced people.
     
  • Calm (7-day free trial)
    Is a similar app that focuses on sleep, meditation and relaxation

App-based psychologist visit

  • Ahum
    Ahum is a smartphone app which offers therapy sessions with certified psychologists (according to Swedish regulations) online for 100 kr/week.
     
  • Mindler
    Mindler is another smartphone app offering online sessions with certified psychologists (100 kr/session) trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
     
  • MoodTracker
    This is a simple web app to track and chart important aspects of your life from anxiety levels to sleep and water intake. Reminders and the ability to share the charts are part of the application.

Other

*based on Brooks et al. (2018), Brooks et al. (2020), Lee et al. (2018) and Shanafelt et al. (2020)