Spain virus surge hits mental health of frontline workers

Coronavirus infections in Spain are on the rise again.

The latest surge is increasingly straining hospitals as well as the mental health of its workers.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Dr. Joan Ramon Masclans, Head of Intensive Care:

“To have the sensation that you are out of breath, and that life is escaping you as you drown. This is very hard.

And it is one patient after another.”

A study released this month found that 28% of health care workers in Spain reported major depression after the first months of the pandemic.

Nearly half were at risk of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance and alcohol abuse.

The most affected group were nurse’s aides and nurses.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Desirée Ruiz, Nurse Supervisor:

“It is very difficult for the people working. People who hold these patients’ hands knowing that they, well, that really they will end up dying.”

Among the risk factors for mental health disorders are exposure to COVID-19 patients, poor working conditions and fear of infecting family members.

Despite having one of the highest infection rates in Europe, Spain has, for now, ruled out imposing a new lockdown.

SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Dr. Jordi Alonso, Head Researcher:

“From the point of view of society we must think that if we want to be cared for adequately we must take care of health workers who have suffered and continue to suffer.”

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