A US study has concluded that workers exposed to trauma, morally injurious events, and institutional betrayal are at high risk of developing long-term mental health problems like PTSD and depression.
Healthcare workers are particularly vulnerable, with 42.7% having faced traumatic experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Such experiences include threats to themselves, or others, traumatic loss, and moral injury related to COVID-19.
Institutional betrayal, when organizations violate trust or harm their members through actions or inaction, worsened the traumatic stress response.
Many healthcare workers faced these challenges both during and before the pandemic, compounding their mental health risks.
The study found healthcare workers’ traumatic experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, include fearing for others' lives, fearing for their own lives, and witnessing traumatic losses.
Some of these experiences also involved institutional betrayal, where organizations failed to protect their members.
Additionally, actions during the pandemic caused moral injury, with questions arising about the value of lives. Many healthcare workers had also experienced trauma before the pandemic, increasing their risk of mental health issues.
The researchers highlights the need for accessible mental health treatments for healthcare workers to prevent long-term effects like PTSD and depression.