Society often forgets that healthcare providers are humans, too, who may suffer from mental health disorders that can impact their well-being.
Mental health care is a core value that contributes to the basics of overall personal health. Within the clinical industry, it is imperative to provide regular mental health services to its providers to prevent any unnecessary suffering. If mental health within a clinical setting is overlooked, it has the capability of becoming a liability issue when treating patients.
For example, due to strict demands within the healthcare field, doctors and nurses commonly experience a poor work-life balance. Typical shifts for providers often require extreme long hours with an irregular work schedule, leaving the workers with little to no balance in being able to spend regular down time in their homes.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the unsynchronized and 24/7 demand for health care quickly rose. Due to the shortage of healthcare workers, the pandemic left a traumatic impact on healthcare professionals. During the pandemic, these individuals faced a national health crisis where they were overworked, overstressed, and exposed to a fatal life threatening virus with no solution.
According to the National Institute of Health, since September 2022, about 70 percent of health care workers self-reported feelings of anxiety when going to work. Since 2023, the healthcare industry is now experiencing a shortage of workers due to retirements and burnouts. Almost half (49 percent) of U.S. healthcare workers expressed how they are overwhelmed and are looking for new employment due to trauma and stress they endure at their job.
Over the last two years, many healthcare workers have left the industry, and those who stayed are facing struggles more than ever before. The already understaffed field is headed into bigger trouble due to the cause of poor mental health it inflicts on its workers.
On top of this issue, the mental health stigma in society adds fuel to the fire. For doctors and nurses to provide quality care, their mental health must be acknowledged and treated as needed. There is no need for health care workers to hit rock bottom before receiving treatment services they need.
Here are some helpful tips on how the healthcare field can cultivate mental wellness for its workers.
By promoting open and honest conversations about mental health, helps address and manage those concerns. When creating a safe and understanding atmosphere, doctors and nurses feel comfortable discussing their mental health struggles. The earlier problems are addressed, the quicker issues are prevented from developing into serious problems. Healthcare workers can receive support to promote their well-being when discussions about mental health are normalized in the industry.
Stress management is essential to help healthcare workers navigate several challenges they meet within their profession. Tools are available to help hospitals and other medical facilities identify stress within their workforce. For example, the Well-Being Index, created by the Mayo Clinic, allows doctors and nurses to measure their level of stress, and provides access to local and national resources to help improve their mental health. The tool used by workers helps recognize the areas that need improvement by targeting the root causes of their stress, and keep track of their progress.
Offering flexible work hours leads to increased productivity and job satisfaction. By allowing employees to take regular breaks during shifts, their ability to manage their workload increases. With the combination of flexible work hours and regular breaks, employees can maintain a healthy work-life balance. This balance can reduce stress levels and improve the quality of their mental health enabling improved work performance. When healthcare employers prioritize the importance of flexible work hours for their employees, not only does productivity increase, but employers demonstrate their dedication in advocating for a healthy work environment.
Recognizing the early stages of a burnout is important for maintaining mental wellness. Although burnouts can manifest differently for each person, common signs indicate physical and emotional exhaustion. People experiencing burnout may lack energy or motivation, decreased productivity and negativity towards work or personal life. To help relieve or prevent burnouts, key tools can be used, such as mental health assessments and tracking measurement for progress. By employers reacting proactively to help ensure mental wellness, healthcare workers have a greater chance of maintaining balance, mental positivity, and job satisfaction.
To ensure success within any healthcare organization, the key element is to cultivate a supportive mental wellness work environment for its workers. Employers are responsible for regularly evaluating and taking any necessary action to ensure the work culture has a positive atmosphere to support employee mental wellness. To create a positive work environment, employers should prioritize open communication, feedback, support and encourage employees to advocate for their mental health by finding a healthy work-life balance. By employers prioritizing their employees’ mental health, an environment where trust is gained and healthcare workers are supported. A positive clinical setting helps identify and address potential concerns before they grow into serious problems.
The reality is that the clinical industry must value and promote mental health for the benefit of healthcare workers. Positive change can be accomplished by recognizing mental health as a critical foundation within the clinical industry. When mental wellness is identified as an essential and correctly cared for, doctors and nurses are healthy, enabling them to provide quality treatment to their patients.