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1 in 3 public health workers pose symptoms of depression, PTSD: CDC

More than 30 per cent public health workers have reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because of the prolonged demand for responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

1 in 3 public health workers pose symptoms of depression, PTSD: CDC
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To evaluate mental health conditions among the health care workers, the agency conducted a nonprobability-based online survey during March 29 to April 16, 2021.

Among 26,174 respondents, 53 per cent reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition in the preceding 2 weeks.

About one in three each reported symptoms of depression (32.0 per cent), anxiety (30.3 per cent), PTSD (36.8 per cent), while nearly 10 per cent reported of planning suicide.

The highest prevalence of symptoms of a mental health condition was among young workers below 29 years (47.4 per cent) and transgender or nonbinary persons of all ages (65.5 per cent) and those being unable to take time off from work.

"Implementing prevention and control practices that eliminate, reduce, and manage factors that cause or contribute to public health workers' poor mental health might improve mental health outcomes during emergencies," the CDC said, in its weekly MMWR report on Friday.

Most (92.6 per cent) respondents reported working directly on Covid-19 response activities; the majority (59.2 per cent) worked more 41 hours in a typical week since March 2020. Workers who could not take time off had a two-fold greater risk of reporting at least one mental health condition than those who could take time off.

"The prevalence of all four mental health outcomes and the severity of symptoms of depression or PTSD increased as the percentage of work time spent directly on Covid-19 response activities and number of work hours in a typical week increased," the CDC said.

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