Pet Poison Helpline and AVMA LIFE have teamed up to co-sponsor webinars on a variety of topics pertaining to veterinary wellness. We share a passion for the veterinary industry and a desire to help our profession grow. We hope you can join us on our journey!
April 19, 2018
Christine Moutier, MD
Chief Medical Officer at American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Awareness of high rates of burnout, depression, and suicide in physicians and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) is leading to changes within the medical profession at all levels. Most mental health problems can be effectively managed, but real and perceived barriers, such as confidentiality concerns and fear of negative ramifications on one’s reputation, licensure, or hospital privileging keep many HCPs from addressing their mental health needs. Unattended distress has ramifications for HCPs as well as the healthcare industry and patient safety. A number of factors contribute: in addition to individual risk factors and stress load, institutional culture plays a critical role leading HCPs to rationalize distress as part of their professional identity. There are several initiatives with demonstrated effectiveness in medical settings which can be scaled up for greatest impact: education and stigma reduction efforts, policies and procedures that treat mental health on par with physical health, and efforts that promote an overarching culture of respect. Further strides can be made by addressing hospital and state licensing forms’ questions related to mental health – ensuring that questions pertain to competence rather than illness – or replacing questions altogether with a statement encouraging proactive actions to protect physician mental health and safe practice.