Deep within the medical profession, where providers work each day to save lives, a haunting truth lingers: the silent agony of those who heal. The mental toll that providers endure is often shrouded in stigma and shame as they are often left to deal with these challenges on their own.
As a locum tenens staffing agency that works intimately with hundreds of healthcare providers each month, we at Interim Physicians care deeply about the mental health of the healthcare heroes who are more than just providers to us. They’re also our friends.
So, during Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to talk frankly about the unique burdens physicians and advanced practice providers bear. It is the collective responsibility of staffing agencies, healthcare facilities, and the general public to foster open conversations and ensure that no healthcare professionals needlessly suffer.
In This Story
Since 1949, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) has given Americans an opportunity to unite against the mental health stigma and support those dealing with mental illness. NAMI’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Month this year is “More Than Enough,” which emphasizes the inherent value in every individual, irrespective of their circumstances.
Mental health isn’t easy to talk about, but the more we speak out on these issues, the easier it is to dissolve the associated stigma. The fact is that this is not an uncommon situation today:
- Nearly 1 in 5 American adults experience diagnosable mental health conditions annually, with 46% meeting the criteria at some point and half developing conditions before age 14.
- The projected decline in the US psychiatrist workforce would result in a shortage of 14,280 to 31,091 psychiatrists by 2024.
- Physicians currently face increased stress and have a higher suicide rate, according to a National Library of Medicine study, while over 20 million US health workers are at risk, with 22% experiencing moderate depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
You can become an advocate for mental health year-round; it doesn’t have to just be during Mental Health Awareness Month. We can do this by providing support and making people aware of the resources available for everyone, whether they be healthcare providers, medical support staff, or patients in the general public.
We can help raise awareness by first encouraging discussions at home, work, and on social media. Then, we should reach out to friends, family, and colleagues, letting them know that you care about them, that they matter, and that they are more than enough. This helps normalize discussions on mental health.
There are many resources available for those dealing with mental health issues, and each of us can contribute to a solution by sharing these resources with those who may need them.
Key Mental Health Resources for Healthcare Professionals
If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other mental health concerns, remember that you’re not alone. The resources below provide tools, educational materials, and access to direct help for healthcare providers who need immediate assistance and mental health support.
Organizations and Associations
- Mental Health America: An organization providing information, tools, and resources for mental health awareness and support.
- Physician Health Programs (PHPs): Programs designed to assist healthcare professionals with mental health and substance abuse issues.
- American Psychiatric Association (APA): A professional association offering educational materials and resources for psychiatrists and mental health professionals.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): A nationwide advocacy group providing support, education, and resources for individuals and families affected by mental illness.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): A government agency offering resources, treatment locators, and educational materials for mental health and substance abuse.
- Dr. Lorna Breen Foundation: A non-profit organization dedicated to improving mental health support and reducing stigma in the medical profession by prioritizing physician well-being, providing resources, advocating for policy changes, and raising awareness about mental health in healthcare.
Support for Health Professionals
- Health Professional Shortage Areas: Areas designated by the government with limited access to mental health professionals, highlighting the need for increased support and resources.
- Physician Support Line: A confidential helpline providing peer support for physicians facing mental health challenges.
Mental Health Assessment & Assistance
From Surviving to Thriving: 10 Tips for Preventing Burnout
About 44% of physicians experience burnout, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). There are many avenues physicians can take to prevent this from happening. Here are 10 tips and strategies physicians can implement today to help improve their mental well-being:
- Recognize and acknowledge your stress levels. Reflect on your feelings and recognize if you’re struggling to cope in high-stress situations.
- Take control over the things you can change. Focus on making small, transformative changes, such as reducing administrative tasks or adjusting work hours.
- Set firm boundaries. Say no to extra work and clarify what you can take on. Learn assertiveness skills to protect your valuable time.
- Seek out social support at work. Engage with colleagues through quick chats or coffee breaks. Sharing problems and feeling supported can improve coping skills.
- Look after yourself. Prioritize self-care, including getting enough sleep, adopting healthy living strategies, and maintaining a balanced diet.
- Incorporate exercise into your routine. Carve out time for physical activity daily to boost mood, improve sleep, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Find time for personal activities and hobbies. Engaging in non-work-related interests outside of medicine promotes professional satisfaction and mental rejuvenation.
- Continuously learn and set goals. Pursue additional certifications, continuing medical education, or participate in professional development activities to stay engaged and motivated.
- Seek mentorship and support. Engage in confidential discussions with peers, join support groups, or seek guidance from mentors to learn effective strategies for addressing burnout.
- Advocate for a positive work environment. Participate in hospital committees or task forces to influence policies and foster positive changes that support physician well-being.
Locum tenens work can also assist in preventing burnout in the medical field. Locum tenens work offers flexibility for providers and allows them to create more balanced schedules while reducing administrative burdens, promoting better overall mental well-being.
A Salute to Healthcare Professionals Providing Mental Health Services
Interim Physicians honors and supports all healthcare professionals for their role in providing mental health care. We appreciate the dedicated physicians who provide essential mental health services year-round, regardless of specialty.
In solidarity with Mental Health Awareness, wearing the green ribbon, the international symbol of mental health awareness, shows colleagues, loved ones, or simply those you walk by in passing that you care about their mental health. Numerous buildings nationwide will also light up green to raise awareness.
Interim is proud to provide locum tenens psychiatry support to health systems nationwide, and in many instances, psychiatric care would likely not exist if not for you. As providers of locum tenens support, we contribute to health systems nationwide, ensuring all types of care in underserved areas.
This month in particular we send our heartfelt appreciation to you – the physicians and advanced practice providers doing the work and providing essential mental health services throughout the year for those in need. You are pillars of your community, and you play an indelible role in our lives.
We recognize that you are not just providers, but also human beings with needs and vulnerabilities. While you tirelessly care for others’ physical and mental health, it’s crucial to prioritize your own well-being. We appreciate the sacrifices you make every day and aim to provide you with the same support you give to others.