Mental Health Conditions Up in Public Health Workers During Pandemic

53.0 percent in public health departments reported symptoms of at least one condition in survey conducted during March, April 2021

MONDAY, June 28, 2021 (HealthDay News) — More than half of public health workers reported adverse mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research published in the June 25 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jonathan Bryant-Genevier, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined mental health conditions among public health workers in state, tribal, local, and territorial public health departments using an online survey conducted during March 29 to April 16, 2021.

The researchers found that 53.0 percent of the 26,174 respondents reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition in the previous two weeks, including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideation (32.0, 30.3, 36.8, and 8.4 percent, respectively). Respondents aged ≤29 years and transgender or nonbinary persons of all ages had the highest prevalence of symptoms of a mental health condition (ranges, 13.6 to 47.4 percent and 30.4 to 65.5 percent, respectively). The likelihood of reporting adverse mental health symptoms was increased among public health workers who reported being unable to take time off from work. With increasing weekly work hours and percentage of time dedicated to COVID-19 response activities, there was an increase in severity of symptoms.

“Strengthening work systems to encourage behavior changes that promote mental health, such as building awareness of symptoms of mental health conditions and developing sustainable coping strategies, might improve mental health conditions, particularly for public health workers who are at increased risk,” the authors write.

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