When health care providers suffer from burnout or a mental illness, it can affect how they treat patients. It can also impact the quality of their work. While it’s important to take care of your patients, it’s also important to acknowledge that health care providers are vulnerable to mental health conditions that can leave them feeling helpless and out of control.
If you’re a healthcare provider, maintaining awareness of how mental health issues impact you can help you stay healthy and happy. Here’s what you need to know.
Healthcare Sector Has Faced a Mental Health Crisis for a Long Time
Of the professions in the US, physicians have some of the highest suicide rates. Approximately one physician commits suicide each day. The recent pandemic only exacerbated these problems. Physicians face climbing workloads and high patient casualty rates.
Symptoms of Stress to Watch For
Knowing the symptoms of mental health problems is the first step to getting help when it’s needed. Symptoms to watch for include:
- Feeling irritation, anger, or denial
- Feeling uncertain, nervous and anxious
- Lacking motivation
- Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burnt-out
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Difficulty sleeping
The symptoms above can be signs of depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles. During times of stress, depression is a common problem. There are many medications and other treatments that can stop feelings of depression, but first, you must be aware that you’re experiencing this kind of problem.
Check-in with yourself on a regular basis. Ask yourself questions from time to time. “How am I feeling today?” “Am I doing alright?” “Do I have more or less energy than yesterday?” These questions can help you assess your condition and decide whether you’re coping with the problems that you face at work.
Take Control of Your Mental Wellness
If you’re a physician suffering from a problem like depression or anxiety, there are many resources available to you. Counseling, support groups, and peer support networks for healthcare workers can help you see through your problem to the other side. Burnout and isolation are not the only options. Below are some of the support groups that you might take advantage of if you’re feeling not quite yourself.
- Physician Support Line – This organization provides services for physicians and medical students feeling the effects of stress and anxiety about their jobs and personal lives.
- Nurse Groups – This organization provides no-cost, confidential support to nurses experiencing anxiety about COVID-19.
- Peer RX Med – Peer RX Med is a free program supported by doctors and other medical professionals to help physicians and others on the care team move toward thriving both personally and professionally.
In addition to the important organizations above, there are other organizations that provide mental health support to healthcare professionals. Your employer may offer support. If not, get recommendations from your doctor for care.
Healthcare Organizations Can Help
There are many things that healthcare organizations can do to support their physicians and create a culture of wellness in the workplace. By supporting our medical professionals, we help support the entire healthcare system.
Some things healthcare organizations can do to support healthcare professionals include:
- Encourage physical activity in the workplace.
- Provide opportunities for social connection and engagement.
- Eliminate stressors.
- Create realistic productivity measures
- Support personal resilience by providing access to mental health benefits, vacation, sick time, and education on strategies to promote well-being.