Health care workers struggle with stress of battling pandemic

Health care workers struggle with stress of battling pandemic

One of the effects of the coronavirus is that the mental health crisis is worsening among health care workers who are battling the pandemic

The world lost a frontline soldier in the battle against COVID-19. Dr. Lorna Breen, 49, a New York hospital medical director, became yet another casualty when she took her own life Sunday. Colleagues described her on social media as “a true friend and a compassionate warrior” and “a great emergency physician, great person and great friend.”

Dr. Ayman Fanous, the head of psychiatry for SUNY Downstate Medical Center, fears for other health care workers. “These workers have seen more death than they’ve ever seen in their entire careers,” Fanous told CBS News.

Fanous has seen a dramatic increase in the number of doctors and nurses seeking support therapy.

“As we see in war when you get shocked, you might not feel the full impact of the pain right away, but with time, you’ll see more and more symptoms … insomnia, possibly flashbacks and nightmares,” he explained.

Dr. Mafuzur Rahman is one of those who sought help. Rahman said “it’s just devastating” to see the toll coronavirus is having on people.

“I have to say that last night … one of my mentors, someone I had known for the last 20 years or so, uh passed away,” Rahman said. “It’s not, it’s not real almost at times.”

Many of those caring for the sick and dying will need care themselves, even long after this crisis is over.

How protecting your mental health is just as important as your physical health

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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