Original Research - Special Collection: Mental Health

The mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers during COVID-19 in South Africa

Jennifer Watermeyer, Sonto Madonsela, Johanna Beukes
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 28 | a2159 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v28i0.2159 | © 2023 Jennifer Watermeyer, Sonto Madonsela, Johanna Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 September 2022 | Published: 31 March 2023

About the author(s)

Jennifer Watermeyer, Health Communication Research Unit, School of Human and Community Development, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sonto Madonsela, Health Communication Research Unit, School of Human and Community Development, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Johanna Beukes, Health Communication Research Unit, School of Human and Community Development, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Little is known about the experiences and impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare workers (HCWs), particularly in Global South contexts.

Aim: The authors aimed to explore the experiences of HCWs at different points during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa.

Setting: This study’s sample included 621 HCWs from various professions and health sectors who completed the survey during the pandemic peaks of waves I, II and III in South Africa.

Methods: The authors used a qualitative survey design exploring participants’ general work, life, mental health and wellbeing experiences, and their support mechanisms or strategies. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: The authors identified three overarching themes in the data, namely stress, adjustment to work during COVID-19, and support experiences and needs. These themes were common across all three survey waves, with some minor differences noted across the waves.

Conclusion: An overarching thread of uncertainty seems central to HCWs’ experiences of working during COVID-19, related to pressures in the South African healthcare system that have been aggravated by the pandemic.

Contribution: These findings have the potential to inform the development of contextually relevant approaches to support the mental health and wellbeing needs of HCWs during and after a pandemic. In particular, workplaces need to actively offer psychological support to all HCWs, not just to workers traditionally defined as frontline.


Keywords

COVID-19; experience; healthcare worker; mental health; qualitative; South Africa

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Metrics

Total abstract views: 2246
Total article views: 2208

 

Crossref Citations

1. Workplace wellbeing among health care workers providing HIV services in primary care in Johannesburg: a mixed methods study
Ndinda Makina-Zimalirana, Melanie Bisnauth, Nosipho Shangase, Natasha Davies, Anele Jiyane, Fezile Buthelezi, Kate Rees
Frontiers in Public Health  vol: 11  year: 2023  
doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1220301