Ministry’s initiatives aim to prevent burnout among healthcare workers

KUALA LUMPUR: Healthcare workers involved in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic will be given unrecorded leave with the approval of the respective heads of departments so as to avoid symptoms of extreme stress or burnout, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said in a statement today that mental health screening would also be conducted on healthcare workers and frontliners from time to time to identify those who show signs of early onset of pressure, anxiety and depression.

These are among several initiatives by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to tackle the issue of extreme stress, especially among healthcare workers and frontliners during the pandemic, he said.

“Psychological first-aid will be given to those with problems and they will be referred to a counsellor or psychiatrist, according to their needs,” he said.

He also said that workers would be given mental health alert cards when they complete their duties for the purpose of self-monitoring their mental health.

Apart from adopting the concept of duty rotation, the MOH’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) team would be deployed at Covid-19 Low-Risk Treatment and Quarantine Centres (PKRCs), such as the one at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), to provide counselling and psychosocial intervention to staff and patients, he said.

The MOH has urged all frontliners to always pay attention to their mental health, apart from their total commitment to providing services and treatment to all patients, especially during this pandemic period.

The MHPSS team will always collaborate with various agencies and ministries in tackling the issue of burnout among healthcare workers as well as take appropriate action to prevent the problem from recurring.

“Assistance as well as counselling will always be provided to any individual who needs them, especially the frontliners,” he said.

Studies carried out on 893 healthcare workers on the “Prevalence and Factors Influencing Burnout Among Frontliners in Malaysia During the Covid-19 Pandemic” found that the prevalence of personal-related burnout was 53.8 per cent.

The highest incidence of personal-related burnout was among pharmacists and healthcare workers at district level, he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said the prevalence of work-related burnout was 39.1 per cent, with assistant environmental health officers and laboratory staff recording the highest percentage while the prevalence of patient-related burnout was 17.4 per cent among paramedics and healthcare workers in private hospitals.

Among the factors which triggered burnout situations among healthcare workers included extremely heavy workload, the uncertain pandemic period, adapting to the various standard operating procedures (SOPs), disruptions to career path and difficulty in balancing between family and career. – Bernama