Placing provider well-being in the spotlight on World Mental Health Day
The data points are many, varied, and staggering. Here are just a few, from a variety of sources:
- 42% of physicians report feeling symptoms of burnout this year, and the problem skews disproportionately to female providers (51%)
- The same overall percentage (42%) are reluctant to seek mental health treatment
- The percentage reporting burnout is highest among GenX providers (by 10 points over Baby Boomers and Millennials)
- 60% of providers say “too many bureaucratic tasks” contributes to burnout
What do these statistics tell us? For one thing, healthcare has a real, widespread problem on its hands, which may have serious societal consequences and should concern us all.
This is not news – physician burnout has been in the spotlight for several years now – but on World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10, 2021), we would like to take a moment to re-focus attention on the issue. It’s imperative that the healthcare industry works together to solve this crisis for the sake of providers, individually and collectively, and for the patients who depend on them for care – in other words, all of us!
Here are a few ways we can help healthcare workers navigate through the stress that normally comes with their profession, now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Create a safe space where they can openly share their feelings about working during the pandemic, and offer your support.
Creating an environment that fosters open dialogue about mental health struggles is a vital first step. Feelings such as loneliness, sadness and anxiety are all normal, yet feeling emotionally unwell still carries negative stereotypes. We might accidentally dismiss someone’s emotions as “just a phase” or insinuate that the individual may be “acting crazy” when experiencing a range of emotions.
Encourage your friends and loved ones to openly discuss their experiences, lend a listening ear, and help guide them to seek professional help when necessary. Simple questions such as “How are you?” and “How can I support you?” followed by active listening may go a long way toward helping a healthcare worker feel a bit more at ease to freely discuss their emotional state.
- Encourage healthcare workers to learn about resources for combating mental health struggles.
Coping mechanisms, or strategies to combat mental health struggles, are healthy and safe ways to provide some relief when feeling intense emotions. The CDC suggests some coping mechanisms for healthcare workers during the pandemic (including exercising, engaging in mindfulness techniques and establishing a routine) and includes information on where healthcare workers can turn to if they need professional support.
- Ease administrative burdens typically associated with the job.
Healthcare providers dedicate their lives to helping others — it becomes their ethos. Unfortunately, the administrative tasks many now are required to perform has made it harder for them to do their primary job, caring for patients.
PatientKeeper has long had a mission to create technology that streamlines provider workflow, both from a clinical and administrative perspective. Our solutions give providers access to all their patient information when and where they need it — on their phone, at a nursing station, or at home — to deliver better care at the bedside, and more easily and efficiently document and charge for the care they have delivered.
While mental health is not our expertise, we appreciate that the more we start to normalize the conversations around mental health and address physician burnout, the better our providers and healthcare delivery system will be for it. The effort requires our collective attention every day, not just on World Mental Health Day.
If you or someone you know is in need of mental health assistance, SAMHSA operates a free, confidential, 24/7, year-round treatment referral and information service at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).