The purpose of this project is to improve mental health outcomes among medical workers who are employed at a hospital and their families. It is based on objective MHMD-4.2 from Healthy People 2020, which aims to reduce the proportion of adults who experience major depressive episodes. To help fulfill that goal, the first goal of the initiative will be to help the participants assess their mental health for signs of potential issues. Second, it will aim to refer them to appropriate information and services so that they may improve their ability to maintain their mental health and receive qualified help if necessary. To that end, the organizers will survey participants at a convenient location and act on the information that they obtain. The proposed solution should result in substantial improvement without incurring high costs.
The project will not require a large team, as it is relatively simple in scope and not large in scale. First, a survey assessing the respondent’s mental health will be designed and printed out, most likely using an established and evidence-based instrument. Then, the organizers will stay at a location that is frequently visited by healthcare workers and their families and offer them to participate in the survey. Permission by the organization that manages this space to conduct the activity will be required for this purpose. Having obtained the data, they will analyze each response and determine what potential problems it identifies. Then, they will provide personalized guidance to each individual, referring them to useful information and care providers (if necessary). Moreover, each participant will be directed to resources where they can learn about general mental health maintenance for healthcare workers.
The budget for the project will be small, as it will be performed on a volunteering basis. Most of it will involve printing out copies of the survey to be handed out to participants, which is a minor cost. This limited expense serves as part of the justification for the project, as it can achieve substantial improvement without large-scale investment. Shaukat et al. (2020) find that both healthcare workers and their families are at heightened risk of developing mental health disorders, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the people expected to continually work with patients directly, medical staff are at heightened risk of infection, which can result in anxiety and several other issues. Moreover, they can spread the infection to their families, which are endangered and can be negatively affected mentally by this risk, as well. As such, helping them develop and maintain self-care routines and providing mental healthcare to those that require it is critical for the functioning of the healthcare system.
The plan will be implemented at the gym in the hospital where the project’s organizer works. The location is convenient, as it is open only to the hospital’s workers and their families, many of whom use it. Moreover, it is easily accessible for the organizer, and fewer permissions will be required for the project to proceed. The organizer will be distributing the surveys and materials alone, as the hospital’s size enables them to cover a large portion of the workforce and their families, particularly those that visit the gym frequently, alone. They will work on the project in their time off work to avoid interruption of their other activities. As such, the time that they can devote to the task is limited and dependent on their schedule. The current expectation is that they will work on the project on the 18th or 19th of February, 2021.
During the execution of the project, teaching materials that focus on the self-evaluation of mental health and the methods that can be used to maintain it will be employed. First, information regarding the prevalence of mental health issues in the target population and the dangers that they present will be used to emphasize the importance of handling the issue. The organizer will search for evidence-based materials regarding the mental health issues that are the most likely to manifest in care providers and their families, as well as the symptoms that can be used to identify them. They will also find simple guidelines for a self-check procedure that can be used regularly to assess changes in one’s well-being. Lastly, they will use materials that provide easily repeatable procedures for handling the most common mental health issues in the population, both regularly and when the need arises (such as in situations where the person is under active stress).
Ultimately, much of the mental health issues that health workers are currently experiencing stem from stress, which is a well-researched phenomenon. People are concerned about COVID-19 as well as their financial well-being as many people continue being unable to work. These topics are well-researched, though the knowledge has not necessarily been applied in conditions of extreme and widespread duress, such as the current pandemic. Wong et al. (2020) have conducted research in the context of the ongoing situation and recommend interventions such as guided mindfulness exercises, behavioral support mobile applications, notably PTSD Coach, and general proposals based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As such, encouragement of healthy behaviors and monitoring for early detection of issues are interventions with high potential.
Several organizations, both public and private, are potential targets for partnerships that will improve the performance of the project. Public partnerships will primarily manifest through the usage of their informational resources, such as the CDC help page. Private organizations, as well as some public ones, can also be contacted to enable the organizer to refer people in need to them. With that said, they will need to specialize in mental healthcare and provide affordable services. As such, additional research will be necessary to name prospective partners and contact them. As explained above, the project is expected to take place over one day with limited follow-up. As such, a reasonable timeline for results would be a month from the beginning of the survey distribution. An evaluation of the participants can take place, and improvements in formerly problematic areas should emerge.
The mental health of healthcare workers and their families has been neglected, in large part because of a lack of resources to provide them with comprehensive care. With that said, a substantial body of work exists regarding stress management in the field, much of which involves inexpensive self-administered interventions. Much of this knowledge applies to the current situation with some adaptation, which is the aim of this project. As such, the proposed initiative has the potential to effectively address the issues of the hospital’s workforce and provide evidence for whether a similar initiative can be applied on a larger scale to cost-efficiently improve mental health outcomes.
Shaukat, N., Ali, D. M., & Razzak, J. (2020). Physical and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers: A scoping review. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 13(1), 1-8. Web.
Wong, A. H., Pacella-LaBarbara, M. L., Ray, J. M., Ranney, M. L., & Chang, B. P. (2020). Healing the healer: Protecting emergency health care workers’ mental health during COVID-19. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 76(4), 379-384. Web.