It's no secret anymore that healthcare workers are more prone to burnout, depression, and suicide than the general population, with numbers increasing in recent years. We've known about the crisis long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, exasperating the mental health strains practice and hospital staff were already experiencing.
Not only are medical professionals more likely to suffer from mental health challenges but they are also less likely to come forward about it to get help. In April 2020, Dr. Lorna Breen, an accomplished NYC emergency room physician working on the frontlines of the first wave of COVID-19, died by suicide. It was later learned that Lorna thought she would risk losing her medical license or being ostracized by colleagues if she sought treatment.
A recent Medscape survey of 13,000 physicians found that 43% said they had not sought help for burnout or depression because they “don’t want to risk disclosure to the medical board."
This is an issue near and dear to our hearts, not just because the people we serve are medical professionals but also because we want to make sure our own team members feel cared for and valued.
They do so much to take care of shelter animals that come in and make sure our education events go off without a hitch. Our staff always steps up in those special emergency cases too, sometimes even taking patients to their own home to recover, as Cookie's story demonstrated. That takes up a lot of time and love, which can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
Veterinary Professionals: Not One More Vet
Not One More Vet (NOMV) is a campaign and organization that individual members of the Viticus Group team has supported for some time, and Viticus Group is excited to do so as well. They provide great resources and support groups, and they also offer grants to veterinary professionals who are struggling financially.
Viticus Group's Chief Veterinary Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Pease, says:
"Not One More Vet (NOMV) and their newest offering, Not One More Vet Support Staff (NOMVSS), are great resource groups on Facebook to provide support to the veterinary community. Although suicide is a universal issue, veterinarians and their support team have unique pressures and influences with our ability to humanely euthanize patients and the stresses that this brings to the profession.
We are very pleased to continue our support of NOMV as a member of our Viticus Group community and cannot thank them enough for the help that they provide to the profession."
Human Health Professionals: Doctor Lifeline
Doctor Lifeline is an organization serving human health professionals. According to their website, the high suicide rate among medical professionals is partly because "the culture of medicine discourages doctors from seeking help for burnout or depression. Other toxic factors include bewilderingly hostile workplace environments, loss of societal stature, excessive documentation and regulatory demands, litigation stress, inflexible poorly designed electronic health records, insurance company preemption of clinical decisions, and a prevailing perception of increasing powerlessness."
Viticus Group has created flyers and cards with uplifting messages and mental health hotlines/resources or both veterinary and human healthcare professionals. We're placing them on reception desks, in bathrooms, and in other easy-to-see places around the Viticus Center. It's a small way to help the medical professionals that go through our facilities that they are not alone. Because heroes need help sometimes, too!
If you are a healthcare worker and are concerned about your mental health, go to mhanational.org/frontline to be screened and find resources and support. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 to reach a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7.
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