Risk of mental health problems and burnout is greater in healthcare workers

The risk of mental health problems and symptoms of ‘burnout’ are greater in healthcare workers, who ask for training from managers in humanized leadership, according to data from the Portuguese Laboratory for Healthy Work Environments (LABPATS).

The data comes from a study that will be presented on Wednesday at the Medical Association and which analyzed more than 2,100 health workers, including nurses, doctors, operational assistants, senior technicians, pharmacists , psychologists, administrators and managers.

The coordinator of this work, Tânia Gaspar, who leads LABPATS, recalls that the situation had worsened after the pandemic, then stabilized, but has not yet managed to recover to pre-Covid-19 values.

Tânia Gaspar, who had already led the national study on healthy work environments in different areas of work — released in May — says that the values ​​collected “are worrying”.

“We need urgent action. Those people who thought that after the pandemic they could do nothing and that things would return to normal on their own, it has been proven that this is not happening”, warned the specialist, remembering that professionals are starting to “switch off”, that “the ‘wearing the shirt’ has decreased” and that the private sector is increasingly competitive, as it currently invests a lot in the possibility of investigation.

With a PhD in health organization management, Tânia Gaspar studied Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), private and public hospitals and remembers that “PPPs had the best of both worlds because they didn’t have to go finding clients, (…) the clients were permanent, but the quality assurance model was actually much more robust, effective and provided other conditions”.

“We really have to rethink everything and take urgent action in this area because health professionals, compared to other professionals, are at greater risk,” he said.

In addition to attributing a high risk to the Mental Health dimension, the study concludes that it is professionals from the younger generations (Z and Y, aged up to 40/45 years) who reveal less involvement at work and lower perception of performance. It is also those of generation Z (up to 34 years old) who have worse mental health indicators.

“A healthcare professional who is unwell will affect their actions with patients and the situations can be very serious”, recalls the researcher.

On the other hand, professionals from older generations (generation X and ‘baby boom’, that is, over 44 years old) have a more positive perception of community involvement.

“We noticed that higher education students also have difficulties in the area of ​​mental health and this area of ​​health ends up having a large investment, a large overload. These young people already come from their training very fragile and then enter the job market and end up having more difficulties”, he explains.

Tânia Gaspar says that, regarding young people’s expectations in relation to the world of work, “what is happening is a defense mechanism. The door of the future is opened to these young people and really It’s all uncertainty, a lack of happiness, of well-being… it’s just negative things. And then they think: ‘I’m not going to invest my energy, my expectations, in something that seems so bad. negative'”.

The researcher also considers that young people who are not from the health sector are managing to deal better with this issue.

“Young people place greater value on reconciling professional life with well-being and their personal life. Here, in the health sector, probably due to the demands of the profession, they are unable to do this,” he warned.

The expert also draws attention to another aggravating factor: more than one in four (25.4%) healthcare professionals say they are the target of threats or other forms of physical and psychological abuse.

“Workplace harassment is higher among healthcare professionals than among other professionals, where we had figures of 19%”, said the researcher, also warning of the urgency of taking measures in this area.

“If I were Minister of Health I would be really worried”, he concluded.


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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