May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect opportunity for everyone, including healthcare professionals, to take stock of their own mental health.
Did you know that one in five Americans suffer from mental illness each year? Clinicians are not immune. They make life and death decisions daily, and over time, that stress can take a toll. According to a recent CareerBuilder nurse survey, 70% of nurses say they feel burnt out and 54% of nurses rated their stress level at work as high.
If left unchecked, high levels of continual stress can lead to compassion fatigue, burnout, depression, and anxiety. So, what can you do?
Recognize the signs: There are several different mental health conditions, all with varying symptoms. However, certain ones, like depression and compassion fatigue, have similar indicators. Feelings of isolation, prolonged sadness, social withdrawal, suicidal thoughts, frequent bursts of anger, and/or sleep changes can all be signs an individual might need help.
Talk about it: If some of these symptoms apply to you, know that it is always OK to ask for help. Sometimes, talking to a trusted friend, a loved one, or even a licensed professional can be beneficial. Sharing your experiences with others could also help someone else you know seek help.
Volunteer or nurture a hobby: Take up volunteering or a new hobby to help you relieve stress. Multiple studies have shown that those who volunteer are overall healthier, happier, and less stressed than those who do not. Giving back to your community can also help you connect with others and provide a general sense of well-being. Likewise, a new hobby, such as painting or writing short stories, can boost your overall mood and creativity.
Know what mental health resources are available: As a healthcare professional, it’s likely that you’ll provide care to patients who are suffering from a mental health condition. So, it’s a good idea to find out what resources are available in your community in case you or someone you know might need them.
With so many in the healthcare industry admitting to burnout, it’s important for healthcare professionals to realize they aren’t alone. It is not easy to talk about mental health issues but doing so can help ease the stigma associated with these conditions.