coronavirus in connecticut

Survey Shows Mental Toll of COVID-19 in Early Days of the Pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

The study of 1,700 medical professionals across the country revealed half reported at least one serious psychiatric symptom.  Thirty-three percent of respondents reported intense anxiety, while 17% had severe depression, and 14% reported suicidal thoughts.

“We were surprised that almost 40% of our sample had serious or clinically significant symptoms of anxiety and depression,” said Dr. Jennifer Ferrand, the director of mental wellness for Hartford Healthcare.

Ferrand helped author the study, which was led by Hartford HealthCare back in April.

During a roundtable discussion hosted by Hartford HealthCare, two doctors shared their experiences with an emerging aspect of this crisis, its impact on frontline workers.

“As we head into the second wave you know we’re exhausted and tired,” said. Dr. Faiqa Cheema, an infectious disease specialist. "But, it hasn't changed our resolve and commitment to keep fighting."

“We are impacted by this. It’s a reason why a letter was put out to the governor encouraging shutdowns,” added child psychologist, Dr. Laura Saunders. “As frontline workers sometimes we except ourselves to be invincible and we’re not invincible.  We need help like everyone else.”

Hartford HealthCare employees are encouraged to seek out peer support groups. 

“There are many of us struggling but if you don’t talk about it then you’re not alone,” said Saunders. “This is taking its toll."

Saunders said seeking help will be critical as we enter a second wave, which top officials at Hartford HealthCare forecast will be worse than the first.

“The next impact is going to be so big,” said Dr. Keith Grant, head of Infection Prevention for Hartford HealthCare. "Based on our modeling we're likely to see more patients than we did in the spring."

However, unlike in April, when this survey was taken, there are new protocols in place and a vaccine around the corner.

“We feel very safe.  We know that we have access to adequate personal protective equipment,” said Cheema.

Still, they know there are long days ahead.

Ferrand believes it could take years from some on the front lines to recover.

“I think that this will change a lot of people’s lives professionally and personally,” she said.

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