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World J Psychiatr. Jul 19, 2021; 11(7): 337-346
Published online Jul 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i7.337
Psychological and mental health impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers in China: A review
Carla Zi Cai, Yu-Lan Lin, Zhi-Jian Hu, Li Ping Wong
Carla Zi Cai, Yu-Lan Lin, Zhi-Jian Hu, Department of Epidemiology and Heath Statistics, School of Public Health, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou 350122, Fujian Province, China
Li Ping Wong, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
Author contributions: Cai CZ drafted the manuscript; Lin YL, Hu ZJ, and Wong LP reviewed and finalized the manuscript; all authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Supported by the Pilot Project of the Fujian Provincial Department of Science and Technology, No. 2020Y0005.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors declare no conflict of interest for this article.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Li Ping Wong, MSc, PhD, Professor, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Jalan Universiti, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia. wonglp@ummc.edu.my
Received: February 8, 2021
Peer-review started: February 8, 2021
First decision: May 5, 2021
Revised: May 13, 2021
Accepted: June 23, 2021
Article in press: June 23, 2021
Published online: July 19, 2021
Abstract

The coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has put healthcare workers in an unprecedented situation, increasing their psychological and mental health distress. Much research has focused on the issues surrounding anxiety, depression, and stress among healthcare workers. The consequences of mental health problems on healthcare workers’ physical health, health-compromising behaviours, suicide ideation, family relationships, and job satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic are not well studied. Enhanced psychological stress has known effects on an individual’s physical health. In healthcare workers with pre-existing comorbidities, psychological stressors may exacerbate their current health problems. Healthcare professionals are known to have a high risk of substance use, hence they may be at risk of development of substance use addiction or vulnerable to addiction relapse. Frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers are being pushed above and beyond their limits, possibly resulting in suicidal tendencies. Furthermore, the burden of high workload and burnout may also have serious manifestations in relationships with family and an intention to quit their jobs. Future studies should explore the above-mentioned deleterious consequences to provide insight into the development of mental healthcare strategies to combat the psychological impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers during the COVID-19 emergency. It is imperative to employ strategies to care for and policies to protect the psychological well-being of healthcare workers.

Keywords: Psychological, Mental health, COVID-19, Healthcare workers, China

Core Tip: Much has been investigated surrounding the issue of anxiety, depression, and stress during the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic among the healthcare workers in China. Nonetheless, the consequences of psychological and mental distress on healthcare workers’ physical health, general well-being, family relationships, job satisfaction, and anticipated turnover are not well studied. We herein discuss the multi-faceted consequences of psychological and mental health on healthcare workers in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. This review also highlights the important areas overlooked in research and mental health policies.