Virus takes toll on mental health of Europe’s medics
London: Steve, a paramedic in northeast England, contracted the coronavirus two months ago. Then his wife fell ill. Both recovered but throughout they were concerned about passing it on to their two young sons.
“On my return to work, I couldn’t sleep properly, as I was worried that I could still bring the virus home and that I could still get it again,” the 46-year-old told AFP.
“I never thought I would ever have to work on the front line in a pandemic. I do wish it was just a dream and when I wake up the world will be back to how it was.”
Doctors, nurses and paramedics in full protective clothing have become an enduring image of the pandemic.
But stress and anxiety brought on by dealing with the high levels of serious illness and death have become commonplace on the medical frontline.
Now, professional bodies and experts in Europe’s worst-hit countries want more support to tackle the psychological impact on staff — particularly if a second wave strikes.
“We’ve got all the ingredients for a major risk of post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Belgian mental health expert Xavier Noel.
Noel, a clinical psychologist in Brussels, singled out nurses as of most concern, given their proximity to seriously ill patients and the dying.
“They’ve faced a totally unusual death rate and way of dying, in a more dehumanised context, without the presence of families to support them,” he said. – AFP