EHS-COVID (404) Impact of COVID-19 on mental health of health workers (6)

13 June, 2021

Dear colleagues,

Covid 19 has affected not only the mental health of health and mental health workers alike but how health care and mental health care is done.

During the first phase of the covid19 pandemic, the health system was under extreme strain. Hospitals were under alert. Health providers were under pressure, fear (death and contamination) and stress. For example, in the hospital I was working at, during continuous training sessions occurring every morning, I had to talk on the mental health implications of covid19, where I enabled the staff of the hospital to be sensitive about the distress covid19 was having on them and to protect and take care of their mental health. In fact, I had had feedback from colleagues on how covid19 was affecting them.

Recently, Mboua et al. (2020), assessed the extent of anxious and depressive symptoms among health workers responding to COVID-19, in the context of Cameroon. They found "a high rate of anxiety (41.8%) and depression (42.8%). That there is a higher susceptibility to depression in young people (30-39 years). Fear of contamination and fear of death are modulators of depression and anxiety. The prevalence rates of major depressive disorder and adjustment disorder in the sample were 8.2% and 3.3%, respectively." The implications for health system performance should be highlighted. However, some local NGOs (e.g UNIPSY et Bien-etre, CENTREPSYS...) had initiated free psychological follow-up of the health workers.

For example, UNIPSY funded by UNFPA provided psychological support to 487 health workers (146 physicians and 341 paramedics)

Nevertheless, there was no large-scale initiative of the ministry of public health for health workers. Mboua et al. (2020) discuss, ‘’that the results underlines the urgency of setting up a specialized aid and/or support system, in the context of the current pandemic, such as that of similar health crises. Such a device does not exist in Cameroon, where the mental health response remains weak.’’

I am still gathering feedback from mental health providers on the effect of the covid19 on their mental health.

The great lack of investment brought to mental health development in Cameroon albeit on the one hand an increasing yet timid political will, and on the other hand growing mental health needs, is quite a big paradox. Unfortunately this situation is a threat to the health system performance and the mental health and wellbeing of the population.

Leveraging mental health capacity from local NGOs on the one hand which still need to be empowered, as well as INGOs on the other hand, can greatly contribute to fill in the mental health treatment gap. The ongoing efforts to put into place universal health coverage will be rendered greatly effective.

Best wishes,

Didier Demassosso

HIFA Country Representative Coordinator Afro Region

Mental Health Innovation Network Africa Knowledge' Assistant


Mental Health Expert

HIFA Country Coordinator For WHO AFRO Region

HIFA Country representative of the year 2014

MHIN Africa Knowledge Exchange Assistant

Member of the African Evidence Network (AEN)

Cameroon Human Right Fellow 2017

Tel :(237) 670-14-01-23/694-90-20-29


skype: Didier Demassosso

HIFA profile: Didier Demassosso is a mental health practitioner, Consultant (WHO , MoPH Cameroon...), Mental health advocate , Youth advocate with 10 years experience in mental health development in Cameroon. He is also a health communicator and educationist. HIFA Country Representative For Cameroon/ HIFA Country Representative of the year 2014 / Regional Coordinator for Africa. He also currently volunteers for the Mental Health Innovation Network Africa as Knowledge Exchange Assistant.

Email: didier.demassosso AT