MENTAL HEALTH OF HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL
World Health Organization’s (WHO) defines the concept of health as ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’, particularly defines mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to her or his community.
Physicians are no different than their patients and face life challenges that originate at home and work. These adversities might range from the death of a loved one to refusing to access available assistance because of stigma. Mental health issues are also a major concern in healthcare industries as well.
The mental health of healthcare professionals is critically important because their mental health is associated with medical errors or decreased performance and these could negatively affect the patients’ health. Furthermore, mental health problems experienced by healthcare workers contribute to the high turnover rate which affects the costs of medical institutions through training costs and decreased productivity. When referring to what are the consequences for the problem and associated studies show that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are exposed to psychological distress, such as role conflict, emotional labour, being concerned about medical errors and litigation, as well as experiencing verbal or physical abuse by patients and caregivers or bullying by colleagues.
The line for their exposure to mental health issues refers does not end there its continuous healthcare professionals have a much greater chance of being exposed to long working hours, night work, or shift work. Therefore, they frequently experience a sleep problem. These contribute to the high levels of anxiety, depression, panic attacks and frequent risk for long term issues. The American Psychological Association (2018) analysed “several studies that looked at burnout among mental health services providers, its researchers found that “anywhere between 21% and 61% of mental health practitioners experience signs of burnout”. Another research review in the Journal of Clinical Psychology analysed around thousands of the and half of them reported that the health care professional including mental health care professional showed “moderate-high levels of stress and burnout”.
Himani my best friend found herself lost in the dense forest of guilt, shame and embarrassment bottle of vodka in hand with the intent of killing herself when she called me, not to mention she is a practising resident in the medical field. She had been living with depression since college; but as a paediatric care doctor, she did not want to let other people know, with the fear of what others in medicine might view as a weakness and kept her challenges to herself. A year ago, she broke her silence to me and it’s then it struck to me how much doctors all over the world go through just to maintain our trust that they are strong and capable enough to not make mistakes which in turn ruins their mental health then I decided to make people aware about the same.
“Depression, burnout and suicide occur at higher rates in the medical profession than in many other fields. Nearly one in three doctors are clinically depressed, and approximately 400 physicians take their own lives every year.”
This is the result of the stigma surrounding the concept of seeking mental health help and therapy and being labelled for the same as we are aware how the doctors stigmatize mental illness and treat it differently than they do physical frailties,”. In her personal story, she narrated to me how the other healthcare professionals talk about doctors who have cancer with those who have a mental illness. She also told that no one doubts the ability of the doctor to handle cancer as though they are not tough enough to handle the mental health issues and people engaging the act of labelling them as “not strong enough to be a doctor.”
A doctor’s work environment can be especially toxic and exhausting thus keeping that in the mind and also the scope and the nature of their jobs, healthcare professional and also the mental health expert including are spoken about unfairly and believed that they do not have personal needs be it emotional or physical. But doctors like any other human being on this earth has full right to have the space to seek intervention, and feel comfortable doing it, just as anyone should. They’re human beings like anyone else – they get tired, sad and face problems in their social lives.
That’s why it’s so important for all levels of medical personnel and educators to be able to help each other take better care of their health and taking steps towards creating a mental health forum and first aid facility to spread more awareness of mental health and other associated issues within the medical community.