New Survey Shows Negative Impacts of Prolonged Pandemic on Healthcare Workers’ Mental Health – More than 50% Questioning Career Path

Findings Raise Urgent Concerns as Healthcare Workers Contend with Another Wave of COVID Hospitalizations

August 8, 2022

OAKLAND, Calif. – A recent survey of roughly 5,000 frontline healthcare workers finds that more than two years of dealing with the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing profound negative impacts on workers’ mental health. As the pandemic continues into its third year, the survey raises serious concerns for the workers, their families, their work environments, as well as their willingness to stay in the healthcare field.

The survey, conducted from March – April 2022, found that the negative impact of the pandemic is widespread and affects all healthcare workers, regardless of job title and direct level of involvement with COVID patients. The survey is one of the largest of its kind to focus on the pandemic’s sustained impact on those who work in allied healthcare jobs and provide everything from janitorial, housekeeping, food service, lab work, and administrative support, as well as direct patient care, such as medical assistants, certified nurse assistants, respiratory therapists, social workers, and others. Roughly 80% of the respondents in this survey identified as workers of color.

Overwhelmingly, these healthcare workers report feeling stress (91%), anxiety (83%), exhaustion/burn-out (81%), and being overwhelmed (77%), with impacts on their physical health and their families as well. Those providing administrative and other support such as janitorial and food service registered similar, and in some cases, higher levels of negative feelings and impact on their physical and emotional health as staff who directly provide care for patients.

“Sadly, less than 20% of the healthcare workers who participated in this survey felt they had adequate emotional support,” said Schroeder Stribling, President and CEO of MHA, “These findings underscore the urgent need to invest in accessible, culturally responsive supports and services for those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as workers continue to face challenges associated with new subvariants.”

Other findings in the survey include:

  • Workers in this survey reported that their most significant work-related stressors were heavy/increased workloads, uncertainty about when things will settle down, and, particularly for Asian, Black, and Latino workers, concern about getting sick themselves.
  • Despite these stresses, workers across all job types report they do not have time or space to process the impact while at work (45%) and are unable to take time off when needed to attend to their own physical or emotional health (55%).
  • More than half of all workers, regardless of job duties, regularly felt sadness. Almost one-third of all workers regularly felt grief, with administrative support staff reporting feelings of grief at higher levels than those who provide direct patient care.
  • While workers reported experiencing negative feelings at very high rates, few workers experienced positive feelings, such as pride (only 8% overall), or hope (less than 18% overall).
  • Despite early applause and shows of appreciation from the public for healthcare workers as heroes, by the end of the second year of the pandemic, 70% of front-line workers felt unappreciated regardless of racial group, job type, or tenure in healthcare.
  • More than half of all workers (52%) questioned their career path in the previous three months, while up to 60% of workers of color have considered leaving healthcare as their profession.

“In addition to concern for workers and their families, this survey clearly tells us that unless we invest in support for all workers involved in delivering healthcare, we will exacerbate the challenges of retaining a qualified and diverse workforce in a field that has long faced a shortage of healthcare workers,” said Rebecca Hanson, Executive Director of The Education Fund.

The full report can be found here:

With generous support from the James Irvine Foundation, the survey was commissioned by The Education Fund and administered by Mental Health America (MHA), in partnership with the Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative (S2i). It augments findings of previous surveys by MHA and others in which most respondents were predominantly degreed medical professionals, such as physicians and nurses.


About Mental Health America: MHA is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all.

About The Education Fund: The SEIU-UHW & Joint Employer Education Fund is a multi-employer labor-management partnership serving 105,000 SEIU healthcare workers across 20 employers and six states to advance their careers through innovative education and training solutions.

About The Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative: S2i is a national organization catalyzing change to ensure that all people with mental health conditions can live the fullest possible lives, and that public and private resources are equitably devoted to that end. It centers its work on the authentic leadership of people with lived experience and racial equity.

For more info, contact: Keith Mitchell at the Education Fund at or 510.250.6853


The Education Fund congratulates the first Pacific College LVN cohort class!

Education Fund staff members, Nial Egbun, Implementation Specialist, and Monica Lond-LeBlanc, Career Counselor recently attended the graduation of the first Pacific College LVN cohort class! Originally scheduled to start in early 2020, due to COVID-19 this cohort didn’t start until August 2020. This group of 10 learners experienced many challenges including online classes, participating in clinicals wearing full protective gear, and weekly COVID testing. They persevered through everything to achieve their goal of becoming LVNs. We know this group of dedicated individuals will be joined by many others thanks to our new LVN Pathway. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

The Education Fund welcomes Planned Parenthood Southwestern Oregon!

The Education Fund is excited to announce our new partnership with Planned Parenthood Southwestern Oregon.

The Education Fund is an employer-paid benefit offered through a joint partnership between SEIU Local 49 and PPSO – therefore, all services and programs are available to eligible employees at no cost! Whether employees are interested in taking College Courses, speaking to one of our qualified Career Counselors, learning new skills, or more, the Education Fund is ready to support their healthcare career goals.

Congratulations on receiving new educational benefits through the Ed Fund! Welcome aboard! We look forward to supporting PPSO employees’ education journey.

The Education Fund presents 2021 results to CWDB and HCAP

Throughout April 2022, The Education Fund’s Executive Director, Rebecca Hanson; Tarik Scott, Director of External Relations; Sonya Allen-Smith, one of our trustees and program graduates; Patrice Madu, Director of Education; and Angelynn Avé, Northwest Regional Coordinator presented 2021 organizational outcomes to the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) and Healthcare Career Advancement Program (HCAP). In these presentations they shared information and statistics about our thriving High Road Training Projects (HRTP), the summary of our First Steps campaign, share 2022 opportunities for our organization and acknowledge the success of our Apprenticeship programs.

Rebecca Hanson, Tarik Scott and Sonya Allen-Smith present 2021 member results to the California Workforce Development Board on behalf of the Education Fund.

In 2021 alone, the Education Fund served over 27,600 unique learners with 70% of those being women and 70% being workers of color. We also launched fully supported pathway programs for Surgical Tech, Rad Tech, IT, Phlebotomy, MA, CNA, Sterile Processing, Mental Health, RN to BSN, Coding. In 2022 new pathways are being added for LVN and Respiratory. 1,200 members completed degrees, certificates or certifications for a new job in 2021, up 410% from 2020 to 2021, with the number of Black and Latinx learners earning new degrees and certificates up 484% from 2020 to 2021.

Over the last few years our HRTP programs have focused on connecting underrepresented workers to opportunities for advancement, including non-clinical and entry level workers, English language learners, and low-income communities. One way we’re managing this is through our Member2Member program, in which members assist us in reaching out to their peers to help them understand what benefits the Ed Fund provides. This was especially necessary during the early days of the Covid pandemic when our own staff didn’t have access to the facilities we service. Another option is for the Education Fund to leverage our partnerships to support new and regional HRTP projects. Tarik believes that “our partnerships represent a true intersection between equity by targeting underrepresented workers and communities, and job quality by promoting jobs that pay families sustaining wages and competitive benefits”

The Education Fund team also recognized several critical opportunities for 2022 that will allow us to better serve our members, including providing flexible support services, expanding Career Pathways, Apprenticeships, Clinical Placements and paid training time, and adding more opportunities for diverse entry level workers to advance to higher wage positions to fill shortages and job vacancies, connecting with community hire programs for backfill. “With these shortages there is a lot of opportunity for diverse workers to advance, and this allows us to address not only occupational segregation that’s existed but also to reach back and connect into the workforce system and other community-based organizations to create community hire programs for the backfill that will be needed as people move up”, shares Rebecca.

When discussing the Education Fund’s 2022 opportunities, she says, “we really want to take advantage of the moment that we’re in to address the needs that we’re seeing now but also plan for how work is changing in the future and what the workforce of the future needs to continue the career growth that they want. This has the opportunity to support a better delivery of healthcare in our state and in our country.”

About the Education Fund, Sonya says “It’s so phenomenal how our members turn around and have these ‘aha!’ moments when they realize they have the ability to upscale this benefit that a lot of people don’t have if you’re not working in a partnership such as ours, having the Ed Fund be there to guide you, give you the resources, and the counseling.” She goes on to share that she feels “the Ed Fund is a life changing program for our frontline members so they can continue to grow and change.”

The Education Fund meets and greets SEIU stewards

From left to right: Brenda Grant (Customer Care Representative I), Tiffanie Young (Registered Respiratory Therapist), Meg Niemi (President SEIU L49), Lisa Smith (Certified Surgical Tech), Michelle Wolfe (Diet Aide / Food Service Worker), Zeny Ehrlich (Northwest Regional Coordinator, the Education Fund), Alexis Aiello (Speech-Language Pathologist), and Lacey Douglas (Ultrasound Tech).

The Education Fund’s Northwest Regional Coordinator, Zeny Ehrlich stopped by the weekly members’ meet and greet with the SEIU organizer and stewards this week to share the benefits of our organization. This was the Ed Fund’s first in-person meeting with Columbia Memorial Hospital SEIU members, and was further highlighted by the attendance of Local 49 President, Meg Niemi. We look forward to many more in-person opportunities to meet our members and share how the Ed Fund can help them reach their healthcare career goals!

The Education Fund supports the Future Ready Oregon Bill

From left to right: Angelynn Avé (Regional Coordinator, Northwest Programs), Rachel Lupole (Director, Career Advice), Juanita Kamhoot (SEIU Local 49 Executive Board Member and Performance Improvement Advisor, Kaiser Permanente), Kristy Spencer (Medical Assistant, Kaiser Permanente), and Zenaida Ehrlich (Regional Coordinator, Northwest Programs).

The Education Fund worked with SEIU Local 49 and our Northwest stakeholders to support the Future Ready Oregon 2022 bill signed by Governor Kate Brown on April 5, 2022. Local 49 invited members of the Education Fund’s staff and a couple of learners to attend the signing of the bill.

The Future Ready Oregon Bill is a comprehensive $200 million package of investments to give people the education, training, and resources they need to get into good-paying careers. The package particularly focuses on connecting Oregon’s workers with good-paying career paths in technology, manufacturing, and healthcare. These key sectors provide short-term pathways to meaningful employment, higher earning potential, and opportunities for economic mobility.

Governor Brown specifically thanked SEIU Local 49 and SEIU Local 503 for all their efforts to support frontline healthcare workers and emphasized their support of education and training partnerships. We are extremely proud to have been a part of this monumental bill and we look forward to providing educational opportunities to more eligible learners in the Northwest.