Nurses also need psychological support since many of them suffer from stress, depression, sleep disorders even post-traumatic stress, civil servants’ union Pasydy said on Friday.

The union’s nurses and mental health nurses’ branch said there was immediate need for initiatives aimed at the continuous, daily and substantial psychological support to health professionals.

“Healthcare professionals are at the forefront of dealing with the virus as they care daily for patients infected with the coronavirus and their psychological trauma is an indisputable reality,” the union said.

It added that many studies have been carried out on this issue since the beginning of the pandemic.

A similar study was conducted in Cyprus last November by a research team of the Nursing Department of the Cyprus Technological University led by Dr Maria Karanikola, Associate Professor of Nursing Mental Health. “The results demonstrate the magnitude and severity of the problem,” the union said.

“Emotional exhaustion, high stress levels, burnout syndrome, social stigma of health professionals working in Covid structures, depression, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder are some of the findings of the study, with the symptoms appearing more intensely in structures where more patient deaths occur.”

The union said that the study also recorded fear and anxiety and anxiety among nurses lest they transmit the virus to their family or colleagues, “making it difficult or impossible to fulfil their daily responsibilities at family, personal and social level.”

Support structures for nurses ought to have been up and running since the first wave of the pandemic, the union said. “The psychological support of health professionals by specialists in other European countries is a common and necessary practice and in fact occurs under normal health conditions and not necessarily under pandemic conditions,” it added.

The union said it sent a letter to the health minister and the director of state health services Okypy pointing out their obligation to address the issue immediately and to offer solutions to nurses who need it by providing sessions with experts. The union also calls for the presence of specialists in public hospitals for the psychological support of health professionals, “so that the staff remains psychologically strengthened and healthy, so that it can cope and continue to provide quality health services.”