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Special AJPH supplement offers solutions to healthcare workers’ mental health challenges

Date: Feb 14 2024

Contact: APHA Media Relations

Even prior to the pandemic, health workers were experiencing significant levels of burnout, but COVID-19 stretched the health community to capacity both physically and mentally. Healthcare workers have since overwhelmingly articulated their need for practical solutions to the mental health problems they are all facing. That is why the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have created this special issue dedicated to tackling the urgent matter of mental health among healthcare workers. Health Worker Mental Health: From the Current Crisis to a Sustainable Future delves into the challenges confronting health workers and examines critical research findings that aim to cultivate tangible solutions.

“It’s not time to sound the alarm bells. That time is done,” said Tom Cunningham, PhD, a Behavioral Scientist at the CDC/NIOSH who also served as a lead guest editor for this supplement. “Now is the time for solutions that resonate with health workers; solutions that healthcare leaders can grasp and implement. The transformative potential of this essential research deserves to be put directly in front of the population that can harness its insights to foster collective action.”

Key studies in the supplement show:

  • the high, sustained levels of psychological distress and declining trends in safety responsiveness among healthcare workers during the first two years of the pandemic;
  • in-depth analysis of the threats to safety, health and well-being experienced by hospital workers in their workplace;
  • the necessity of coordinated interventions targeting workplace culture, staff burnout and mental health service provisions based on the factors influencing healthcare workers' intent to leave the profession;
  • how Virginia's successful initiatives eliminated barriers at both the institutional and state level, so more health workers can seek needed mental health care without fear of losing their license and credentials;
  • data indicating the highly effective nature of time-limited cognitive-behavioral therapy-based telehealth care and the potential of digital mental health solutions in addressing health worker mental health and well-being;
  • how adopting an ecological systems mindset (emphasizing the importance of incorporating self-care into scheduling and billing codes) can address healthcare workforce burnout;
  • how targeted, well-designed mental health interventions improve mental health outcomes among healthcare workers.

Prioritizing the mental health of healthcare workers is imperative as their well-being directly influences the quality of patient care, staff retention and overall resilience of our healthcare system.

This journal is a collaboration with partners already at the forefront of instigating positive change and will be a valuable resource in the pursuit to keep our healthcare workers healthy and happy for years to come. It is currently available online. To request a full copy of a study or for information on scheduling interviews, contact APHA Media Relations.


NIOSH, as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. The 2024 NIOSH supplement issue of the American Journal of Public Health was sponsored by CDC/NIOSH, with funding support from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. For more information about NIOSH visit


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