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UF Health Jax psychologist seeing an increase in anxiety among healthcare workers

Dr. David Chesire says the number of employees at UF Health seeking help for mental health has been on the incline since January.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — How are you doing? We've been going through the COVID-19 pandemic for four months.

It can take a toll on our mental health, healthcare workers specifically as they fight on the front lines. 

The Director for the Center for Healthy Minds and Practice at UF Health Jacksonville, Dr. David Chesire, says he's seen a rise in anxiety. He works with staff at UF Health.

Dr. Chesire says he has seen the number of healthcare workers at UF Health Jacksonville seeking help for their mental health at least double since the pandemic began in March and the numbers have grown steadily since January. He says the main issues he's hearing about is trouble sleeping, lack of appetite, and worrying about family.

He says this is all related to acute anxiety. Chesire explains that one of the triggers for anxiety in healthcare workers is seeing people not wearing masks. 

"Like everyone else (healthcare workers) go out and wear our masks to the grocery store and see a bunch of people who a not wearing it," Chesire said. "Knowing that that's going to impact all of us because as best as we know that is how the virus can spread in hot spots."

He says fear of the unknown is also a big worry. What will happen next? When will the pandemic be over? 

RELATED: For front-line workers, COVID-19 has another side effect: a toll on mental health

"There will be a point where COVID is in the rearview," Chesire said. "There will be a point when we've got this thing licked and we can move on from it. Now, what exactly is going to happen between now and then? Not entirely sure."

They are worries we share with healthcare workers, but Chesire said another major concern of healthcare workers is spreading the virus to their loved ones. He says staff is often isolating themselves from family members which can also hurt their mental health.

Dr. Chesire says he's not sure if the numbers will rise, but time will tell. Some of the programs available to help UF Health employees include wellness programs, employee assistance programs, and the Center for Healthy Minds and Practice. 

RELATED: First Coast veteran talks about mental health struggles faced by vets amid pandemic

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