Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness

February 13, 2020

The mental health of medical workers in Wuhan, China dealing with the 2019 novel coronavirus



  • Healthcare workers in Wuhan have been facing enormous pressure including a high rate of infection, inadequate protection from contamination, overwork and exhaustion, social isolation, lack of contact with their families, and negative interactions with their patients.  These issues are creating mental health issues of stress, depression, fear, denial and anger.  
  • The government of Wuhan has implemented a number of steps to address the issues pertaining to healthcare workers.  These include identifying infected individuals as having work related injuries.  Additionally, the officials have sent healthcare workers from other provinces to help, rotating shifts in terms of high and lower pressure roles, increasing access to information on how to mitigate risk of transmission.  
  • Four psychological intervention teams have been set up.  These teams have a variety of roles.  One team coordinates management and press.  Senior psychological experts formulate psychological intervention materials and rules and provide technical guidance and supervision.  Medical teams participate in psychological interventions for healthcare workers and patients.  Finally, psychological hotline teams composed of volunteers who had received training in dealing with COVID-2019 provide telephone guidance.  
  • Results from these initial mental health interventions are reported to be positive and may inform future planning for crisis intervention.

Kang et al. (Feb 5, 2020). The mental health of medical workers in Wuhan, China dealing with the 2019 novel coronavirus. The Lancet.