Public health workers feel ‘helplessness and burnout’

Public health offices have been chronically underfunded

New Jersey public health officials say angry political pushback together with back-breaking workloads at low pay have created toxic conditions for their staffers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Megan Avallone of the New Jersey Association of County and City Health officials notes, “When you feel that there’s a certain part of the public that just doesn’t support your mission — which is trying to keep people healthy — I think that’s tough on morale.”

That, critics say — on top of chronic underfunding and systemic understaffing — has overwhelmed public health offices. In a Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey of more than 26,000 public health staffers this spring, more than half reported mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD, and nearly 24% felt bullied, threatened or harassed.

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