Supporting the mental health of frontline health care workers

Big Health 04.15.2020

Health Care Workers (Image)

Protecting the mental health of our healthcare workers on the frontlines has never been more important. In the daily fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers are shouldering a massive emotional responsibility - and burden. Every time they show up to work, they’re putting themselves and their loved ones at risk - and if certain projections are accurate, some may soon be even facing impossible decisions about which patients should receive the limited supply of life-saving care1.

Healthcare workers need to brace themselves for a long fight — and safeguarding their mental health in the meantime could go a long way. Consider the following cycle a healthcare worker might experience: Increased anxiety leads to poor sleep, which leads to a weakened immune system, which leads to a higher chance of contracting the virus.

"My hospital in NYC likely has the most cases in the city, maybe in the country. The emergency room feels apocalyptic... I don't know how long my colleagues and I will last before one by one we burn out, or get the virus, or both." Dr. Mannat, New York City

From instagram account, Faces of the Frontlines

Our Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Jenna Carl, framed it well:

"Even in normal times, healthcare workers are already at increased risk for mental health difficulties, like anxiety and depression. They also have higher rates of suicide, sadly. This risk is heightened hugely during the COVID pandemic 2, so we need to really step up to support these workers who are saving our lives.

We need evidence-based interventions that can both help with prevention and treatment of mental health problems, and we need interventions that are actually feasible for busy, stressed healthcare workers to access.

It’s been exciting to see a lot of creativity emerging in this time with CMMS making changes to encourage teletherapy, for example, but we need many more models of intervention — self-help, group, digital, etc. — than just traditional 1:1 talk therapy... which can’t possibly meet all the current need."

Doing our part

We believe our digital mental health solutions can provide much-needed relief during this difficult time for workers on the frontlines — so in the spirit of doing our part, a few weeks ago we offered quick-access versions of our evidence-based digital therapeutics at no cost.

Since then, our solutions have been made available at no cost to healthcare workers at  UCSF, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Advent Health, BJC Healthcare, Harvard Pilgrim, along with over 70 other organizations globally. Across the Atlantic, the NHS of England also rolled out access to Sleepio & Daylight to all 1.2 million employees.

We’ve made it as easy as possible for you to offer Sleepio and Daylight to healthcare workers during this difficult time

First, send an email to community@bighealth.com to initiate a conversation with our team.

From there, we’ll set up a call to go over the technical aspects of the launch (including communications, employee access, and liability).

The last step is to get the word out to your employees. We know hospitals and health systems are as busy as ever before. With our pre-packaged communications toolkit, we've made it a light lift for you and your team to communicate the offering to your healthcare employees. Here's how UCSF did so on their website:

UCSF Communication Example

We understand the urgency on the frontlines, and are doing our best to prioritize hospitals and health systems to ensure we’re providing community access within just 24 hours of inquiry. We look forward to hearing from you.

“I am so moved by the hard work and generosity of Big Health to provide these tools for free to an entire health system. We know how much this will mean to people to have at home, during this challenging period.”

Elissa Epel, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UCSF

References

1 Emanuel, E. J., Persad, G., Upshur, R., Thome, B., Parker, M., Glickman, A., ... & Phillips, J. P. (2020). Fair allocation of scarce medical resources in the time of Covid-19.

2 Reger, M. A., Stanley, I. H., & Joiner, T. E. Suicide Mortality and Coronavirus Disease 2019—A Perfect Storm?. JAMA Psychiatry.