Mental Health Support for Doctors – Overview
The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled the healthcare industry to work at full speed for more than a year now.
Healthcare providers are exhausted with treating patients round the clock. Tens of thousands of healthcare workers have also suffered from and recovered from, the virus attack.
The rampant death and fear have caused undue stress on healthcare workers’ mental health too.
However, there is a taboo related to healthcare workers seeking care for their mental health. This caused many doctors, nurses and other frontline healthcare workers to suffer silently from mental anguish and stress.
However, the facts remain that there is no mental health reporting required by the state medical licensing organizations. Yet, the taboo prohibits thousands of healthcare workers to seek advice from mental health experts.
How to manage mental health support for doctors?
Doctors, frontline healthcare workers and their families are most prone to adverse mental health effects. They have to balance their duties with their own well-being.
We want to help the healthcare heroes maintain their mental sharpness and cope with unprecedented stress.
Hence, we have listed the various tips and resources where you can seek mental health support from doctors.
Tip 1 – Take care of yourself
Taking care of your own mental and physical health, while caring for patients, is extremely important. Let’s take a look at some tips that can help doctors to cope with mental stress from work:
Acknowledge your feelings
Being a doctor, you can expect to meet a certain level of stress in the profession. The inevitable surge in cases, the heightened risk of infection, shortage of equipment, etc. are causes of stress in the healthcare industry.
However, if you realize, these feelings are not a sign of weakness. This does not even reflect on your capabilities as a certified and expert doctor or nurse.
Employ coping techniques
There must be stress-busting techniques you have used successfully in the past during times of distress.
These may involve getting enough rest and respite during work, or even between shifts. Make sure to eat your meals, participate in physical activities and stay in contact with family and friends.
Check yourself for stress symptoms
You can also monitor yourself for signs of stress or depression. These may include problems with sleeping, extended periods of sadness, feelings of hopelessness, etc.
You should also check to see if you are recalling intrusive memories too often.
Talking to a trusted colleague or your supervisor is extremely helpful. Always be open to seeking professional help if you notice these symptoms being persistent.
Tip 2 – Take care of the staff
If you are in a leading position in a healthcare setting you should also take responsibility for your staff’s mental health and well-being.
You may need to modify some strategies, roles and tactics. Healthy, stress-free staff is vital to ensure prompt, expert and effective medical care for patients.
To do this, you can choose to:
Change staffing schedules and procedure
You can rotate workers from higher-stress responsibilities to lower-stress functions if permitted by regulations.
You can also pair fresh, inexperienced workers with experienced ones. This will provide them the required support, reinforce safety practices and monitor stress levels in staff effectively.
Implementing flexible work schedules for healthcare staff directly impacts their productivity.
Monitor staff’s mental well-being
You should also monitor the psycho-social and mental well-being of the staff using supportive monitoring methods. . This is an efficient way to identify emerging issues, risks and respond accordingly.
Promote open communication channels
Request your staff to speak openly if they have concerns. Offer regular, brief forums to inform staff on the status of practice and meeting management challenges.
You should also provide ways for the staff to highlight their concerns, ask questions and encourage peer-to-peer support.
Tip 3 – Resources to seek mental healthcare support for doctors and healthcare workers
Let’s take a quick look at the top resources that offer mental health support for doctors:
This resource lists mental health considerations for healthcare workers, including leaders and managers of healthcare facilities.
This is aimed at supporting mental health and psychosocial well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This list is provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). To learn the details of this initiative for mental health support for doctors, you can visit the official website at https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) provides a briefing note. This summarizes the key psychosocial and mental health support issues related to the COVD-19 pandemic.
This note includes major implementation activities and specific messages. These can be used by leaders in the healthcare industry and frontline workers alike.
These activities and messages can be easily accessed by visiting the Inter-Agency Standing Committee website at https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/
Supporting Families of Healthcare Workers Exposed to COVID-19
The Uniformed Services University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) offers the Supporting Families of Healthcare Workers Exposed to COVID-19.
This initiative offers details on family distress, how to handle it and keep families off healthcare workers safe and comfortable during the pandemic.
To learn the details of this initiative, you can choose to visit the official CSTS website at https://www.cstsonline.org/assets/media/documents/
Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak
The US Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD offers the Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak.
This resource provides information on several institutional support and self-care strategies. These strategies are effective to monitor and assess the mental well-being and health of healthcare workers.
Besides this, it also ensures the successful integration of healthcare workers into the workforce after recovering from the COVID-19 infection.
To know further details of this initiative, you can choose to visit the official National Center for PTSD website at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/
Frontline healthcare workers are integral to maintaining modern healthcare infrastructure. When you ensure the mental and physical well-being of healthcare workers you are assured of smooth and effective healthcare services.
If you are a doctor and you feel the stress of the hectic work schedule, feel free to talk to a colleague or supervisor.
In addition, you can also check out the above-listed resources and find the best mental health support for doctors in the US.