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UKZN academics create video on healthcare worker anxieties related to COVID-19

A video to address the anxieties healthcare workers may face provides problem management techniques to help them cope.
A video to address the anxieties healthcare workers may face provides problem management techniques to help them cope.

A video that aims to address healthcare worker anxieties related to dealing with COVID-19 is the product of a collaboration between UKZN’s Department of Psychology, an adult education specialist, and the Centre for Rural Health (CRH).

The four-part video project was commissioned by Professor Inge Petersen and was developed by the Mental Health Integration Programme (MhINT) and the Southern African Research Consortium for Mental health INTegration (S-MhINT) teams led through the CRH to address the anxieties healthcare workers may face, and provides problem management techniques to help them cope.

This is in response to a request from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DOH) to support the development and evaluation of a mental health and psycho-educational support package for frontline workers, patients and community members, as well as healthcare managers in line with their mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) response to the COVID-19 pandemic in KZN. The storyboard was developed in consultation with the KZN DOH and a multidisciplinary team, including academics, mental health specialists, researchers and an adult education specialist.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for strengthening of mental health and psychosocial support for communities and healthcare providers is widely acknowledged. Studies of healthcare workers have shown that they experience significant stressors resulting in mental health problems, and South Africa appears to have similar challenges.

"Much of the stress and anxieties related to COVID-19 experienced by frontline workers are grounded in concerns related to fear of infection; fear for the safety of their families; adequacy of personal protective equipment (PPE); and feeling ill-equipped to manage COVID-19 patients despite updated policies and clinical/practice guidelines still in the development stages yet to filter down to all frontline staff," said Dr Ruwayda Petrus. "There are uncertainties about whether they will be able to cope when the pandemic is at its peak, as they will be expected to care for an increasing number of patients with the same staff complement – which in turn will lead to additional stress."

While the first video was a response to anxiety and stress related to lockdown aimed at all levels of society, the second video primarily addresses problem management for healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19. The third and fourth videos are currently in production and are respectively aimed at healthcare providers in terms of containing leadership, and a community-focused video addressing grief and bereavement.

The video can be viewed on YouTube via

For more information, please contact:

Dr Ruwayda Petrus
[email protected]
078 313 8335

Tasneem Kathree
[email protected]
082 786 9330

Editorial contacts
Nkosinathi Bhekani Dlamini [email protected]