Tackling the stigma of mental health is long overdue but helping clinicians desperately need it is essential.
Doctors get burned out – a natural consequence after heroically manning the front lines of a pandemic. What is less understood is the stigma that prevents doctors from seeking treatment for their burnout. As a society, we suffer from a core weakness rooted in ignorance: A large portion of the population, including physicians, still do not view mental health as an integral part of their overall well-being.
This oversight has dangerous consequences for the doctors who are in dire need of treatment. Mental health care is a fundamental human right and an indicator of overall health. Treatment and routine mental health services need to be made an industry standard to protect physicians and their patients from serious consequences and unnecessary suffering.
Doctors and nurses face a poor work-life balance due to the demands of the industry. With the rise of asynchronous and 24/7 on-demand care, there is little or no line between work and home – and the potentially adverse business consequences of setting boundaries. The pandemic inflamed an already burning issue: labor shortages and a year of trauma left many people overworked and under extreme stress. With no solution in sight, we face a national health crisis.
By September 2022, 40% of health care workers reported feeling anxious or fearful about going to work, and nearly half (49%) of US health care workers say stress and trauma have peaked in their or new job. Looking for they stick to the job. Therapists are working through trauma, trying to manage some semblance of a personal life, and navigating an increasingly online world, all while striving to provide quality care to patients in their most vulnerable moments. are trying.
While many health care workers have left the area over the past two years, those who have stayed are struggling more than ever. Male physicians are especially at risk: 58% of male health care workers in the US reported that they are either on the mend or looking for a new job. The data isn’t much better for women, with 45% of those surveyed reporting a similar experience. These results predict a ticking time bomb: This already short-staffed industry is headed for collapse.
Mental health stigma adds more fuel to the fire; One in three men surveyed do not want to admit a problem (compared to one in 10 women), and almost one in three men avoid getting help because they fear possible judgment from colleagues and family (compared to one in 10 women). Men are stereotypically expected to adhere to a toxic masculinity theory that prioritizes toughness over vulnerability. The “tough-out” mentality (combined with an already impossible workload) discourages men from seeking care. If physicians are to provide quality treatment, they must take care of their own health first and foremost, and realize that mental health care is not a secondary or afterthought. Physicians and patients don’t need to stoop too low before they can get the help they need.
Beyond stigma, 25% of men and 17% of women physicians say the health care system is too difficult to navigate. What hope does the patient have if the professionals become overwhelmed by their own industry? Whether it is perception or the reality of futile logistics, physicians must be more comfortable caring for their own mental needs if they expect to understand and serve their patients. Here are five concrete steps health care workers can take to improve their health in mind and body:
1. Accept that doctors are human too.
It can be easy to forget that health care workers are not superhuman. We love to admire therapists who hit the ground running themselves and avoid investing in real support, but the truth is we’re all mortals. If you have body and mind, you need rest, recuperation and care. While it may seem natural and professional to prioritize the health and well-being of patients, it is impossible to provide quality care while experiencing burnout, trauma, and exhaustion. If health care workers delay in attending to their mental and physical needs, they will soon become patients themselves.
2. Accept Mental Health Care Is Health care.
We must accept that mental health care is health care. Treating anxiety, depression, or burnout is just as important as treating a pulled muscle or broken bone—in fact, poor mental health can adversely affect physical health. There is nothing to be ashamed of in getting help for your mental health; It is a necessary part of routine health care.
3. Find a health care provider that meets your unique needs with an iterative approach.
All health care workers should understand and appreciate the value of finding a provider who addresses their unique set of needs. We at APN offer a specialized healthcare professional track in treatment, tailored to the specific needs of physicians and other healthcare professionals. care provider.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or PTSD, it’s essential to connect with a therapist who can address your concerns through customized treatment, not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) may be particularly helpful in addressing trauma concurrently with regular talk therapy. Ketamine-assisted therapy and Deep TMS may be beneficial options for people who are unable to find relief from mental health symptoms with medications and other traditional modalities.
4. Share helpful resources.
If we want to learn how to navigate backward systems, we have to demand better resources. Health care workers can access physician health programs through the Federation of State Physician Health Programs to help them navigate issues and find treatment options. Health care management should prioritize clear communication and create internal programs to ensure that their employees receive care.
5. Find a telehealth provider if you can’t schedule in-person care.
Committing to in-person therapy can be challenging, but luckily, telehealth options can fit into even the busiest schedules. Mental health apps can be a life-saving option, bridging the service gap and providing support when you need it most. If you’re not entirely comfortable with individual therapy, group telehealth sessions can be a great way to establish a sense of understanding and camaraderie; A therapist will oversee the session and ensure safety for everyone involved.
The reality of this crisis is that there are no quick fixes – we are in this predicament because systematically, we failed to act. Now, the only way forward is long-awaited change, and it starts with aggressively confronting mental health stigma.
The clearest path toward change begins with redefining mental health care, shifting the narrative, and redefining how we act toward those who seek treatment. Clinicians should not be coerced to identify with their diagnosis or need for support. We should consider mental health as an essential foundation of overall health.
When we view health care through the lens of mind-body, we empower physicians and patients to become their own wellness advocates. Only then can physicians be truly healthy and able to provide patients with the quality care they deserve. It was time to work yesterday. We must take the lead and support health care providers before the entire system collapses around us.
As CEO of All Points North, a whole-person health company offering innovative, tailored treatments across the entire continuum of care for behavioral, mental and physical well-being, Noah Nordheimer is a visionary leader who inspires others to share their true With a passion to help find North. , After an injury turned into an addiction, Noah experienced firsthand how impactful recovery can be. Now she is dedicated to destigmatizing mental health treatment and committed to putting behavioral health on par with physical health in order to provide more entry points for care.