How Can The Mental Health Stigma Be Reduced?
- Data gathered before Covid-19 found that 42% of physicians were showing signs of burnout, and experts fear that number has spiked in the years since.
- Clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin suggests some of the burnout physicians feel has to deal with a culture of working hard and ignoring feelings.
- There are steps medical professionals can take to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health treatment. Dr. Strongin urges physicians to speak to each other openly about the topic, noting it’s no longer as taboo as it once was.
“Before Covid-19, data has shown that most physicians, almost 42%, were showing signs of burnout,” Dr. Strongin explained to SurvivorNet. “The problem is that after Covid-19, we are afraid that that 42% has increased so rapidly that burnout will be so high that people will step back from the medical field altogether.”Read More
- An overly cynical/critical attitude
- Trouble getting started with your day
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- A lack of satisfaction
- Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
- Disrupted sleep habits
- New headaches or stomach issues
Dr. Strongin suggests that there are several reasons this type of burnout is common among medical professionals — with one of those being how they are trained.
“One of those reasons is that in training they are programmed and taught to work very hard and almost to ignore their emotional mental state,” she said. This norm within the medical field often leads people to ignore signs from their bodies that they are fatigued and feeling burnt out, Dr. Strongin said.
What can doctors do to change the culture surrounding mental health?
A good first step is to try to get comfortable talking to colleagues about seeking help with your mental health — so that there isn’t such a stigma.
Dr. Strongin said that younger doctors who are just beginning their professional lives now are much better at paying attention to their needs and seeking mental health solutions — and with more acceptance, hopefully this can become the norm across the board.
“Our younger physicians, the residents, the interns, they are so much more open to mental health,” Dr. Strongin said. “So they talk to all their other residents the second they get into treatment and share with them that they have found a therapist, and almost the next day we’ll get four or five calls from the same class. I would love to see that happen more and more.”