Health care workers seek mental health help

  • The researchers analyzed anonymized data from an Ontario database of 34,000 physicians.
  • They found that 27 percent of clinicians sought help for fatigue and substance abuse in the first year of the epidemic compared to 2019.
  • The results indicate that psychiatrists showed the highest rate of annual visits with 3,442 visits per 1,000 physicians, while surgeons scored the lowest, at only 371 per 1,000 physicians.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has seen a sharp decline in Psychological health Across different combinations, while new Research Doctors are also finding they are reaching their limits during a pandemic.

Canadian researchers analyzed anonymous data from an Ontario database of 34,000 doctors who visited 50,000 mental health professionals during the first year of the pandemic.

They found that 27 percent of Ontario physicians sought help for fatigue and substance abuse in the first year of the epidemic compared to 2019.

The study, published this month in JAMA Network Open, also revealed some disciplines that received more mental health visits than others.

The results show that psychiatrists showed the highest rate of annual visits at 3,442 visits per 1,000 physicians, while surgeons scored the lowest, only 371 per 1,000 physicians.

Not all doctors are the same, and some specialties face different pressures and realities. Study co-author Dr. Manish Sood said in a statement that the differences we saw between specialties could be explained by specialty-specific attitudes toward seeking mental health care.

However, the results also showed that mental health visits did not differ by demographic group or work locations – with no differences by gender, age, or whether they worked in an urban or rural setting.

Anthony Lugalpo, PhD, associate professor at Florida Tech School of Psychology, told Healthline that doctors don’t just suffer from the same concerns as the general public — such as restricted access to friends and family, concerns about the virus, and information overload.

“Healthcare workers often deal with additional stress related to increased vigilance and health guidelines that they must follow to reduce the risk of infection at work,” he said.

According to LoGalbo, increased stress may cause a variety of symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, increased fatigue, fast heartbeat or breathing rate, feeling easily confused or restless, and difficulty concentrating.

“Empathy fatigue and burnout in clinicians have been a growing topic of study in recent years,” said Arianna Gallagher, a licensed independent social supervisor and co-director of the STAR Center for Trauma Recovery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Gallagher noted that one of the most common reasons doctors and other healthcare professionals enter the field is a desire to help others.

However, she noted, even when “everyone is doing everything right” positive results are not guaranteed, and healthcare professionals bear the burden of being with patients and their families on their worst days.

“The stress associated with this indirect exposure to trauma can lead to emotional exhaustion, anxiety, depression, feelings of cynicism, increased mistakes, increased substance abuse, relationship problems, and suicidal ideation,” Gallagher said.

According to the researchers, expanding “virtual care” options during the pandemic may play a role in the increase in mental health visits they’ve observed.

This may be due to the less perceived stigma associated with this type of care compared to traditional in-person therapy.

said Scott Gustafson, PhD, a professor at the Florida Tech School of Psychology and director of community psychological services.

Gustafson added that while the move to providing “more robust” telehealth services for mental health would likely increase the availability of services, the mass adoption of online therapy is “too new” that there are no reliable figures regarding its effectiveness, “especially compared to the services of individuals.”

Gallagher emphasized that the most impactful strategies for supporting healthcare professionals use a “multifaceted, system-wide approach.”

She said mental health programs should include both preventive strategies to support well-being and responsive strategies that address problems as they arise.

“Promoting a culture of empathy and integrating trauma-informed care strategies is key to supporting employees,” Gallagher said.

She added that interventions including pet therapy, gratitude programs, mindfulness-based stress reduction, peer support, and access to stigma-free counseling are all important components in providing full-spectrum support across a “continuum of need.”

Deploying the right resources at the right times can help employees maintain a healthy mental state, Gallagher said.

Canadian researchers found that physicians requested significantly higher rates of mental health care in the first year of the epidemic, compared to the previous year.

Experts say this could be due to several factors, including exposure to trauma, empathy fatigue, and increased access to virtual care.

They also say that mental health programs for healthcare professionals should combine preventive and response strategies to treat problems as they arise.