Mental Health in the Medical Field with Dr. Goodman | The Mindful Space Podcast
On today’s episode we have Dr. Jake Goodman.
This is an episode you don’t want to miss out on. We are going to discuss his own personal struggles with depression and anxiety. We’re also going to discuss men’s mental health within the medical field and in general coming from his own personal stories. I wanted to bring this guest to you because I think it’s very important to discuss the topic of seeking help while also providing help for other people. It’s an example of a therapist and there’s this taboo where therapists cannot have a therapist.
Yes, we do have our own therapist within the medical field is okay to seek help for your own mental health as well. So please stay tuned. This is an episode you don’t want to miss out on. Welcome back to another episode of the Mindful Space. Today I’m honored to have Dr. Jake Goodman. How are you?
Fantastic. Thanks for having me, Michelle. Thank you for coming. Thank you for taking the time.
Absolutely. So today we’re going to have an important conversation. Obviously we’re going to talk about yourself, your story, mental health in the medical field, mental health in regards to men. Let’s start with a little intro for those who might not know.
Sure, sure. My name is Jake Goodman. I’m a psychiatry resident doctor. I’m a mental health activist. I’m a content creator on social media. I make videos educating people about different mental health disorders and I inspire people to seek help for mental health issues that they’re going through.
I try to help people realize that they’re not alone in what they’re going through. I love it. I love your mission. Well, that’s where I hear I guess. Yes, yes, that is my mission.
Okay, so take us a little bit back. How did all this social media start? How did you become what you know, you call yourself a mental health advocate? How did you come to this point? Yeah, kind of walking through my journey of my mental health and how I became passionate about mental health. I grew up never really experiencing any mental health issues. I grew up, you know, in the 90s and early 2000s when mental health wasn’t really talked about in men’s culture. I went to school and never really learned anything about mental health. As far as, you know, like high school and stuff like that, I realized that people were depressed and anxious and there was different mental health issues, but I never really saw it and we never really talked about it.
When I went into college, I experienced anxiety for the first time, but I didn’t know what I was experiencing because I never talked about it. So I went to the doctor. It’s like one of those classic stories where I went to the health center and I was like, doc, I’m feeling like I’m having like palpitations and I’m sweating.
Something’s happening. So I’m not myself like, what’s wrong? What’s the disease? Give me the medication so I can treat the, you know, maybe my thyroid is overactive or something.
There ran all the tests and then I remember the doctor sat me down just like this and they were just like, so Jake, I think what you’re experiencing is anxiety. And I was like, no, not me. Like, that’s not me. I don’t experience anxiety. What do you mean? Oh wait, what is anxiety?
Exactly. I was like, I heard about anxiety in high school, but no, I walked out in the office like that guy has no idea what he’s talking about. Well, he was absolutely correct because over the years I’ve started to realize more and more, okay, this is anxiety. I did my research, but I never really sought help. I never did. I, there was a stigma against seeking help and I never did. It wasn’t until, so basically I went to medical school. I graduated college at University of Georgia.
I went to medical school. I continued to experience anxiety kind of intermittently here and there. Still never sought treatment. It wasn’t until I went into residency training in Miami where I fell into a real depression for the first time.
And that was the first time I ever really sought help. And I made the decision at that point that, at that point I’d built a following, which we could definitely talk about, of about million and a half, two million followers on social media. And so when I went and sought help for mental health, I basically had decision, do I want to share this to other people and let them know that, look, I’m a doctor who treats mental health and I have a mental health condition and I’m seeking help for it. So I made that decision and I made a post that was a picture of me with scrubs on, with a pill in my mouth and instead of present and the caption said, my name is Dr. Jake.
I’m a, I’m a doctor who treats mental illness and I take medication for my mental health and I go to therapy for my mental health and I’m proud of it. I posted that. I went from there. You know, I posted that. It’s all mystery.
Exactly. I went to sleep. I woke up in the morning and that thing was colossal viral and I kind of changed my life.
Why do you think it became so viral? I think it was kind of a challenge to the status quo because at that point, you know, I’m a first year resident doctor. There’s a huge stigma in medicine about anyone seeking help for their mental health, being open about it for many reasons that we can get into.
And that that was an open challenge to the status quo that I’m a doctor out here taking an exit of prison. I’m not afraid to say so. And in fact, I’m saying I’m proud of it. I’m proud that I’m actually seeking help. I’m a better doctor because I got treatment and that was like a total shock to the system.
That’s crazy that that would be a shock, right? But you’re right. And we’re going to get more into doubt and into that with the stigma. Now, when you posted it, it was just meant to be for you, right? Like, or for you getting it out, but wanting people to be aware?
Or like bring mental health awareness to everyone? Here’s where my mind was at with it. I had opened up.
Okay, so I’ll rewind a little bit. I had always been posting about mental health throughout medical school and the early part of residency, but I always had a disclaimer on every post. This post is not about my own mental health, rather, this is opposed to to advocate for mental health and to let people know they’re not alone, something like that. Because I was afraid of talking about my own mental health. At the time I was applying to residency, I was, you know, getting interviews and I was afraid of talking about my own mental health, period. When I finally got into residency and started and became a doctor and started going through what I was going through at the time, it was depression. I posted about experiencing depression and I did that because I wanted people to know that they are not alone and what they’re going through and that I also experienced that. And the decision to post about seeking treatment, I had that post in my drafts for probably a month and I sat on it and I was like, you know, it’s one thing to say, you know, hey, I’m really down and I’m experiencing XYZ, but it’s another thing to say.
I am doing something about it and this is what I’m doing. And I’m taking medication, I’m going to see a psychiatrist and I’m seeing a psychologist that that sat in my drafts for a long time. And I came up to the decision like, can this post help a ton of people? And at the time, I think I was the most followed resident doctor in the country and I knew there was going to be people that were going through it, whatever they were going through and they were going to be on their phone that day scrolling and they were going to see a picture of me with a pill in my mouth. And maybe that would have been the push that they needed to be like, you know what, I’m going to go to a therapist because I’m tired of feeling like this.
I’m tired of feeling so depressed. It definitely resonated with a bunch of people because not even here. Yeah, I mean, thousands of people reached out to me the next day and moving forward.
Did you get any sort of backlash? Of course. Yeah, of course. I mean, first off, there are people that just, you know, if you post anything else, I’ll show me, it could be like a picture of you with like ice cream, like I like ice cream. And someone’s gonna be like, you’re the worst, like you support like killing cows, you know, like people on the internet, there are some people that just hate you because you’re you.
So of course, some of that, any viral posts, you’re going to get haters. But then there’s also people that really disliked, you know, the very anti-medicine, anti taking any medication for mental health. And look, I get it, there’s been a major stigma around medication for many years in this country and around the world. And there’s a lot of misinformation about medication on social media in general. People may think, I mean, I’ve heard it all that that’s a brainwash drug or you know, so yes, there were people that came at me and then, but let me be clear, it was probably 99% positive and 1%. The 1% always sticks with you. I got a couple like hate mail afterwards, like, hate mail, not actual mail, but like email.
Okay. I was like, wow, they went old school. Would they go to mail? I don’t provide my address.
I’m sure they would. Okay. But you know, like, oh, now your Dr. Jake is working for pharma, you know, they how much are you getting paid for this post? Right, it’s a sponsor. Yeah, yeah. People, you know, sometimes can be a little cuckoo. Yeah, but overall extremely positive response.
I’m glad. Let’s go, let’s dig a little bit more into the stigma, but specifically for the mental health stigma within the medical field. Why do you think there’s stigma around it?
Why do you think it’s been so difficult? A couple of reasons. I said the culture in medicine is one that’s kind of like, it’s almost like a military type culture. And that goes back to when residency programs were first started and it’s very, is a hierarchy to it. And it’s almost, there’s this culture of like, man up, get through it, don’t talk about your feelings like toughen up. If I went through it, you can get through it. So there’s that culture, that baseline where it’s not promoted or not like okay to really talk about what you’re going through.
And that’s number one. Number two, the way that medical training is set up residency, medical school and residency, it’s very archaic that we still, and I say we, I mean, the residency programs around the country still allow 24 to 28 hour shifts. It’s completely legal. It’s legal, it’s accepted, it’s normal. It’s, as we speak right now, residents around the country are working 24 hours straight, sometimes more.
So that’s accepted. Residents work around 80 hours a week on average, 80 hours. So when do we have time for wellness and seeing our families and sleeping? So that culture exists. So, and then on top of all of that, there’s a fear amongst any doctors in training, most doctors in training, that if they seek help for their mental health, they’re going to have to report that when they apply for their medical license.
So after four years of college, four years of medical school and three to seven years of residency training, doctors are required to fill out a form to apply for their license to practice medicine independently. This is a requirement in every single state in the country. And in that form, there’s a specific question on there that says, in most states, this question says, something along the lines of, have you sought treatment for mental illness in the last X years? Some variation of a question like that. And so there’s a fear that if they check that box, that they somehow jeopardize their medical license and jeopardize the last 15 years they put in. And so what they’ll do, what many people do is they’ll never seek help in the first place, and they’ll suffer in silence, sometimes for years. And then some of people, some people, some residents will end their lives. And that’s the worst case scenario here. And that’s why I’m very active on social media to try to dispel that and let people know that, you know, it’s worth reaching out for help.
It’s totally worth it. I think it’s mind blowing that, like you said, the culture is 24 hours straight, but at the same time, they’re against mental health treatment. Not against, but the whole stigma thing, it’s a big thing. And like you said, it’s a culture. It’s a culture. It’s very archaic.
And it’s just, yeah. My goal on social media, when I look at what I’m doing at a 10,000 foot view, my goal is to just shift the culture a little bit in a more compassionate direction. That’s the goal. And if I can shift it so that 100 people around the country feel more comfortable going to therapy or seeking help, then my mission is complete. I know I can’t change the culture alone. I mean, it has to be all of us coming together, patients, doctors, everybody.
That’s the only way that we can actually push this culture. I think you’ve been talking about it for the common people that are not residents, or the medical field. You know, you get to teach us a lot and talk about this, because if not, I mean, we’re on the other side, we’re on the patient side. And it worries me a little bit. I mean, everybody knows that doctors are overworked.
But when you actually speak about it and say, like, no, it’s actually happening, like 20, 30, 40, they’re supposed to do surgery on me. Heavy, like heavy things. And it’s a little concerning.
I know if I don’t sleep after a day, I’m like, horribly, horribly shaking and just like not focused. So I’m wondering, you know, you’re putting people’s lives at risk. Totally.
There, no, you’re correct. There’s studies done. This is on CDC website that being awake for 24 hours straight is equivalent. You have a equivalent reaction time and physiological response to somebody that is intoxicated with alcohol. So having a being awake for 24 hours straight is actually equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1, which is above the legal limit to drive a vehicle. And we are asking resident doctors to operate or treat a human being.
Yet these people wouldn’t be able to operate a vehicle. And that is mind blowing to me. And it is totally, totally legal, totally accepted. It’s a normal thing for a resident doctor to work 24 hours straight. Yeah.
Like I said, just mind blowing. I’m hoping that will change. I’m hoping that will change too.
Yeah. Unfortunately, the way that the change occurs in medicine from my experience is something horrible, horrible and horrific has to happen for change to occur. And what happened back in the 1980s is that an individual named Libby Zeiland ended up dying. She was a patient. She died because of a medical error made by an overworked resident doctor who was working like 16 hours straight. They made a medical error. That person died. It was all over the news. And the Libby Zeiland law came into place after that, which created the work hour restrictions that we have today of 80 hours a week.
Because before 80 hours a week, it was even more significant. So I’m afraid what’s eventually going to happen that’s going to end up changing the system is that someone’s going to die from a medical error. It’s already happening.
Yeah, yeah. Somebody actually has to fight for it. But that’s usually how just laws are passed, right? Like, we’re very after the fact. Right. It’s unfortunate.
That’s one of the things that, you know, America does very well. Could you share, obviously without giving any personal information, some situations where mental health stigma has affected the medical professionals’ well-being? I mean, I think you mentioned a little bit how worst case scenario would be suicidal thoughts, you know, in a resident or a medical doctor. Have you seen any other signs, like when you have your co-workers or I don’t know, any other trainings you’ve been like, you see how it affects the stigma that meant to help? It affected me. It affected me for a long time.
I never sought help when I really could have benefited from it. There was a particular scenario I remember, a memory I have. I’m driving to a wedding in medical school with three or four of my classmates. We’re going to a wedding, we’re driving in the car, and somehow the concept of the topic of antidepressants get brought up. This time, I was really struggling. This was a time when I was just really anxious and it was affecting me in certain ways. And I remember sitting in the car and everyone’s having this conversation and one of them opens up about taking a medication for their mental health. Another one says, oh, I take medication for anxiety. Another one says, oh, I end up taking medication for depression. And I’m sitting there and no, I haven’t talked about mental health ever at that point. And I’m the only one in the car that’s not seeking help from my mental health. And I was struggling just as much as everybody else, if not more. I basically had this total epiphany in my head, like, why not me? Why not me?
Why, why they get to seek help? But I don’t. Why? Because I have a stigma around it.
Because I’m trying to be like tough about it. Screw that. I remember having that. And it took a conversation with a bunch of friends that I wasn’t even really a part of, I was more listening to for me to like have that shift. And so it affected me for years.
And I never saw help. And I know that there are other people in that same boat. Of course. Yeah, I mean, I feel like, or I resonate with you because as a therapist, too, you know, now everybody talks about it more like, oh, therapists have a therapist. It’s like, yeah.
Yeah, yeah. We’re not these perfect human beings. Of course, we have a therapist, just like we have a doctor, just like we have a dentist.
Like it’s normal. I would argue that being a therapist that has a therapist makes you a better therapist. Of course. It’s actually, you know, when you go through your whole master’s program, it’s highly recommended like go seek help for your issues. So then you can go and fix other people’s issues or try a tent.
From your perspective, what steps can individuals within the medical field take in order to reduce a little bit of a stigma with the mental? Great question. Talk about it. Just talk about it. It could be with a patient. It could be with a friend. It could be with a colleague. I remember seeing somebody one time for therapy as the therapist. I was a therapist and this person had never sought therapy before. And sometimes I just like to ask people, so what brought, you know, why now? You know, you never sought any sort of treatment before. You’re 30 or 40, 50, 60 years old.
Why now? And I remember this person saying, well, it’s because my primary care doctor said that she saw a therapist. And I thought, she can see a therapist. She’s my doctor. I can see a therapist. And that one conversation got this person into therapy. And I remember just being mindblown at that.
Like, wow, it was a conversation. It wasn’t some huge public service campaigns, a public health campaign. It wasn’t this billion dollar thing. It was a simple conversation between one person and somebody else.
That’s all it took. And so if you have gone through something and you’re comfortable talking about it, having those conversations with your friends and colleagues, and just it’s so powerful when I’m at somewhere eating dinner, someone’s like, oh, my therapist said this. And like, that’s normal conversation. And when I hear that, I’m like, that is so cool. Like, wait, who’s your therapist? My therapist is amazing.
Let me refer you. No, it’s definitely more acceptable nowadays. Totally.
It’s so cool to see the culture move in that direction. Like my niece, who is 10 years old, actually, my one another niece who is like three or four, both of them are able to talk about their feelings in such a way that I don’t think we were really able to when we were younger. My three year old niece will say, I’m feeling sad. And we say, well, why are you feeling sad?
And she’s able to explain that when I was three, I was just like, yeah, oh, just Trump. And then your friends will be like, stopped. You’re like, okay, they’re not being dramatic.
And then you just keep it all inside. Now the culture has moved in such a way that people are able to express themselves. Yeah, it’s amazing to see. In your opinion, or you know, what do you experience? Why and as a man, why do you feel there’s so much stigma surrounding men, specifically men, within the mental health field? Yeah, all my life growing up and a lot of my generation and definitely generation above me and above them, it’s always like, man’s man masculine, strong, keep it in man up, never seek help, we don’t need help. If you go and, you know, 20 years back, I don’t think any celebrity athlete, musician, artist was talking about mental health. And so you didn’t have the representation.
Representation is key. That’s a huge reason why I also post on social media and talk about my own mental health on social media, because when I was growing up, I never saw a doctor talk about mental health ever. So I thought that doctors don’t experience mental health issues. And I grew up believing that.
And I think that’s a heart. That’s one of the reasons why I never saw help for my mental health until I started realizing that there are other people that were struggling to. And now, you know, I see Michael Phelps talk about depression. You know, I can list the rock manliest man of all talks about depression. It’s become so normalized.
And when you see people that you look up to and say, wow, they’re experiencing the same thing that I’m experiencing, it’s like the best feeling because it’s like, well, maybe if they saw help and they got better, I could do the same. I don’t think that was around when a lot of guys were growing up. So there is still that culture of like, man up, don’t talk about it, but it’s so much better. And I’ve been working with Men’s Health Magazine for a little while now. I’ve been working with them in a different, in a different, different, both on the magazine and on the website. And that’s so cool because I was growing up reading Men’s Health Magazine, seeing pictures of, you know, APAC abs and how to, you know, be the strongest in the gym. And and now I open pages and they’re talking about Men’s Health. And I’m on there.
I know that it’s me talking about Men’s Health. It’s the coolest thing. I think there’s definitely been a major shift in culture and the like exactly what you were saying. People are coming out and they’re talking more about it specifically men.
And I’m glad they are because I feel like the higher, the highest suicide rates are in men. Yes. For a reason. Correct. You know, I think it’s definitely a dominant fact. And the more we talk about it, the more acceptable, the more acceptable then everybody. I think it’s funny how everybody, the stereotype is you’re men, don’t talk. But then if you’re a girl and a guy actually talks, you’re like, I love it. That’s interesting. It’s like, wait, no.
Yeah. There has to be a good balance, right? But of course, if I, if I find a guy that’s actually able to express their emotions and talk and be communicative, I mean, I don’t want to say talk for all women, but it’s amazing.
We don’t see that as like, oh, you’re less manly now because you’re telling me how you feel. That’s important. Yeah. I don’t know if a lot of men know that.
Yes. Men out there speak about your emotions. Don’t be afraid. We like that. There you have it. Yeah. I miss because I’m a therapist.
No. I can speak at least for me and all my girlfriends. We like a guy that communicate and speak their emotions. I feel nowadays there’s more talk about that, you know, just being emotionally connected to yourself, grounded and spirituality and all these things. So I think that’s a great shift. Yeah. I like it.
What are some of the effective strategies you’ve seen or recommend for preventing or managing the burnout, whether within the medical field? Yeah. That’s a great question. Because that’s another factor too. Totally. We’re more burned up than ever. I mean, COVID did us in. Like, I’m done.
Yeah. But I mean, first off, like recognizing burnout, recognizing it is so important. And the ways you can recognize it is like, did I used to enjoy things that I no longer really enjoy, especially at work? Am I not feeling the passion at work anymore? Do I feel like I’m slogging through the days? Do I feel like it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning? And I think it is also really important to differentiate burnout and depression because a lot of times they come in together. And if you’re seeking, I mean, if you’re experiencing the major depressive disorder, it’s not burnout.
It’s past that point. But there’s a lot of overlap in the symptoms. And so specifically when we talk about burnout for work, it’s just like, you don’t really feel the passion anymore.
You’re not able to really connect with your patients or your coworkers anymore. You’re really just going through the motions. That’s what a lot of people say when they’re burned out. I’m just going through the motions. Just showing up, clock in, clock out, I’m out. You start to just kind of disconnect and isolate a bit more than usual.
So recognizing those signs. And then a lot of times burnout can be solved by taking some time away from that thing that’s making you burned out. It’s not always possible.
It’s not always that easy to be like, hey, boss, I’m burned out. I’ll be back in three weeks. I’m going on a trip to the Bahamas. Keep my spot. I’ll be back.
Don’t replace me. It’s not always that easy. So it’s all about really capitalizing on the time that you do have.
And one thing, this is, I like to say this a lot because it really changed the way I think about mental health in general, is there’s a concept taught by a psychiatrist named Dr. Stutz. And it’s basically called a life force. It’s a big triangle.
The bottom of the triangle, the pyramid, is your relationship with your body. So that’s focusing on sleep. Making sure you’re getting consistent quality sleep, seven to eight hours for most people. Your diet, making sure you’re eating consistent quality meals. Making sure you’re not skipping meals, making sure you’re not eating too much in certain occasions, making sure you’re eating fruits, vegetables, and then exercise at the bottom of that. So it’s exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Exercise doesn’t need to be 90 minute hit workouts at CrossFit.
It can be 10, 15 minute walks every day or every other day. And then the middle layer of the pyramid is your relationship with others. Are you making sure that you’re getting out of the house? It doesn’t need to be this huge part of you go to with a million people. Just socializing in general. Exactly.
It could be this, just a conversation between two people, getting coffee. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but isolation and loneliness is really contributing to burnout and depression. So making sure that you’re taking care of your body, your relationship with others, and then your relationship with yourself is at the top layer. And that is whatever it is for you that you know is your thing that keeps you really balanced. For me, that’s gardening. I love to garden. I like to skateboard. I like to kick the soccer ball with my wife. I meditate.
Those are things I can’t tell you what those things are for you, only you know. And once you figure out what that top layer is for you, making sure that you make sure you hit every single layer, and that’s one way that you can prevent burnout and treat burnout. Yeah. I love the concept of the pyramid.
I like to think I do a little bit of everything. But you definitely start feeling it, you know, all the symptoms you just mentioned, just going through the motions. And it’s so important to take care of yourself and take care of your diet when you set the diet. That’s a big thing. Totally.
That’s often overlooked. I will talk to people and I don’t know, Doc, like I’m taking my medication, I’m going to therapy. Okay, but what’s your diet? Like, oh, well, I mean, most of them just grabbing like, you know, in and out or, you know, no offense, get it in and out. In and out. I don’t want any trauma within now because in and out is like a fantastic restaurant. I love in and out, but yes.
No problem. I’m going to change in and out to Burger King. I’m going to change in and out to Burger King.
That’s a perfect. Let’s generalize burgers every day are not healthy guys. Exactly. No offense to Burger King either. I’m not looking for any heat.
I’m not looking for any heat. I’m just saying like making sure you’re eating vegetables and fruit and not just, you know, high fat things. Just a balance and everything in your diet and your life, you know, like you mentioned, it’s like work, pleasure, diet altogether. Are there certain specialties within the medical field that you feel are more prone to being burnt out?
Oh yeah. Emergency medicine is the number one. Like ER. ER, yeah. That’s an easy answer. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s just, if you look at it objectively too, they have those actual statistics.
I mean, way over 50%, way over 50%. There are some that experience it way less and, you know, what can we learn from those specialties? Dermatology is one that experiences it burn out way less. Psychiatry somewhere in the middle. A lot of these like really high stress, you know, some of the surgical like trauma surgery and stuff like that.
Yeah. I think there’s a lot to learn about why they are burned out, more burned out than others. I think a lot of that has to do with a time away from the hospital too. Some like dermatologists tend to have more time away from the hospital than, you know, a trauma surgeon would. And maybe we need to work on being more balanced and allowing people to have more time with their families outside of the hospital. Have you seen or have you known of current shifts happening of like allowing more doctors to take a little bit more time off?
Are they more flexible or is it just, nothing’s really changing? It depends on your practice. You know, if you’re a private practice doctor, you control everything and it’s not easy to become a private practice doctor these days.
They made it very difficult to do so. So if you can do private practice and that’s something that you’re willing to do the grind to build up the patient panel and do all that kind of stuff, then you have the flexibility to do that. No, I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen a movement towards giving more time off. I really haven’t. I wish. Yeah.
No, it’s work, work, work, work. We’re going to get as much as we can from you. We’re going to have you see as many patients as possible in the shortest amount of time. That’s where primary care is moving, you know, 15 minute appointment slots where it used to be 30.
No, I think we’re moving in the wrong direction with that, unfortunately. And I don’t know this, but maybe you don’t know either. Is it only like an American thing? Do you know what about doctors abroad?
Do they have a different culture or is this in general around the world? I’ve seen doctors in the UK post about this a lot, very similar issues over there, specifically in residency as well. Their training docs, they get paid even less than I believe we get paid here as resident doctors, which is a whole nother issue. And they’re typically overworked. But no, I think America overall is like the heart, like they will work you the hardest. But also, you know, doctors in the US have the highest salaries compared to other nations. And there’s a cost. That cost could be here with mental health, frankly. It’s so intriguing to me because again, I’m not in the medical field, but you hear a lot of those things.
A lot of the sticks knows a lot of the overworking, the medicine, all of that. And, you know, I really hope there could be a major shift, even if it took a slow shift for now, but just something like you said, just talking about it, hopefully we’ll get there one day because it is really concerning. You know, we’re putting our lives at risk.
Correct. I think there are more people that are recognizing it in the profession and their field and are doing something about it themselves. I wouldn’t say there’s this huge group movement, but like I see more doctors saying, you know what, I’ve worked for 10 years. I have a stable income.
I’m going to go part time and I’m going to spend more time with my family. And I think in the past that might have been frowned upon more to work 20, 30 hours a week instead of 50 to 60. But there’s a culture now of like, that’s OK. I think I think COVID brought that out too. It’s like we had so much time with our family and people are realizing like, wow, this is what life is all about, actually spending time with the people that you love. And there I have seen that movement on the individual level. I would like to see it on a bigger scale. Do you think it’s because during COVID it was just madness back to back and people got the point where like, OK, this is what overworked means.
I never want to go through this again. Yeah. I think we were moving in that direction in terms of being overworked and burned out.
And then COVID was just like, boom, because doctors were like, we need you in the hospital like at all times. And you’re moving in. Yeah, yeah.
Come on in. I mean, that that push burnout and pressure and, you know, physician suicide into the limelight. And now the fact that we’re having this conversation and so many people are talking about it, COVID really pushed it to here and now. We might have been having this conversation in five years if it wasn’t for COVID, because we were moving in that direction.
But COVID was like, boom. Yeah. Look, OK, now we’re really going to talk about it. Totally.
Because now it’s reality. Yeah. It’s life or death.
I mean, that’s really easy. What role do you think mentorship or peer support plays in all of this? Mentorship is key.
I recommend any person in life find a mentor, but especially in medicine to have somebody that’s gone through what you’ve gone through and gives you kind of advice to navigate the system and having a mentor that’s vulnerable and and says like, you know, I’ve been there. I know what you’re going through right now. And this is what helped me.
And maybe this is what will help you. And some mentors aren’t like that. Maybe someone more, you know, I went through it so you get through it type of thing. But to have some vulnerability there, like I have a few mentors in my life that are there for me in times of need and there for me when I don’t need them. A mentorship is absolutely key. Do they promote that when you’re doing, you know, studies and rest in season already, if you’re already a doctor, do they support that?
Like peer groups, therapy, like go seek help, something you’re like. They, you know, the, the, they probably not. But there are people who do. And if you like amongst yourselves, yes.
If you find somebody like that, hang on to them because they’re in it to see you win. That’s great. I’m glad to know there are some people. Absolutely. There are.
That’s not lose hope. And that’s one way that we can change the culture is that, you know, when you are a medical student and you’re getting really mistreated by an attending physician and publicly humiliated, which is still very much the culture and medicine. And then you become a resident and then you have medical students working for you. You can change the culture. And when someone makes a mistake, pull them aside, explain that, teach them.
Don’t teach them by publicly humiliating them, teaching them by being vulnerable and saying, when I was a student, I did the same thing, you know, but now let’s move forward. There’s a, that’s how you actually change the culture. But that takes a lot of individual people doing the hard work. Exactly. It’s the same like in the school system, right? But I feel like that’s a little bit more advanced at the medical field. It’s like, yeah, it’s, it’s in everything.
It truly is. What are some ways for medical professionals listening to us to actively engage in the community to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health? Is there anything they can do? Is there anything also as individuals that we can do?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think just kind of going back to being open, talking about it and being open when you see a physician talk about their mental health and not judge them or make public comment about it. And, and sometimes for physicians, it could be they may need to step away from clinical medicine for a period of time to get better. And I think we need to be okay with that concept that that person needs help. And it’s a little more help than going to see it there just once a week. Sometimes people need to really step away for weeks to months at a time. And I hope that we move towards a culture where that is totally okay and accepted. Whether that person is struggling with alcohol use disorder, whether that person is struggling with a severe depression, or there’s been a major loss in their life and they need time away.
That’s what I think we need to be more okay with is, hey, your doctor is not going to be able to see you for the next couple of months because they’re out and they’ll be back later and we have to be okay with that. Yes. Have you seen the series Amsterdam? New Amsterdam? New Amsterdam, yes. No, but so many people have mentioned it to me. It’s the best. I’ve heard. It’s on my list.
Are you asking me? No, I love it because it covers a bunch of those mental health in the medical field, stigma and even like the main psychiatrist, head of psychiatry, everything, he goes through something and then the head ER nurse goes through something she has to leave. So like I highly recommend, I do not work for TV or anything, but I’m hooked and I love it. And it’s not a new series. It has like, I know, five people have mentioned it to me. No, no, I will.
You should definitely watch it. I was curious. I was asking you because I was like, well, since you’re in the medical field, yeah, how much of it is real? So I’m going to have to let me know when you watch it. Okay. In a text movie like Michelle. Yes.
It’s like that or not. I will update our audience. Sounds good. It sounds good because I am doing a series right now where it’s like, basically talking about the first one I’m doing is Grey’s Anatomy.
You talk about specific scene and Grey’s Anatomy and kind of breaking the fourth wall and letting people know what’s actually going on in this scene. But New Amsterdam will be up next. You have to do it in Amsterdam. Oh, I love it. Okay. I got so excited. I was like, what, okay, going back to, you know, what we can do to help the stigma and everything. What can medical schools and training programs do to install a culture meant to how the wear and is in your. Great question.
What could they do? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
All right. I’m extremely passionate about this topic specific. Just like me when you mentioned. Exactly. Same thing.
Go ahead. I mean, making mental health like so talked about and normal is number one. And that’s like in day one in medical school.
Make sure because everyone’s coming in, everyone’s nervous and one’s about to study harder than they’ve ever studied in their life. They moved away from their families, their support systems. And they’re here in a brand new culture and this culture is become a doctor. You got four years to do it.
Oh yeah. By the way, here are, you know, three or two major board exams. And if you fail them, you won’t be able to move on. And by the way, it’s going to be $65,000 a year in debt.
Good luck. You know, there’s a lot. But it’s worth it. But it’s worth it.
You’ll be overworked, but you know. Exactly. So people come into that and they’re like, wow, this is a lot. So talking about mental health from day one and say, Hey, many of you will struggle and that’s totally okay and normal.
And here are the resources that we have here, this medical school that you can go to. We have an anonymous way that you can come in. No one needs to know that you’re going through what you’re going through. And we have, we have a psychologist that you can see or a therapist. We have a psychiatrist on staff, you know, whatever it is that that program has, that medical school has, let them know all of these resources. We have peer support. And if they don’t have those resources, that’s a major red flag. And I wouldn’t recommend anybody go to a medical school that doesn’t talk about mental health and have resources for mental health.
Period. Even maybe just like a hotline, like an anonymous hotline, right? Just call us because someone don’t want to be seen walking in the office.
Those hotlines actually exist. I don’t know the top of my head, but there are really great nonprofits that that are physicians, typically psychiatrists will volunteer. It’s like a physician support group because a lot of physicians need to be or want to be seen by other physicians. And they think that no one else would understand what they’re going through unless it’s another physician on the other end. So that’s one resource to look into for sure. Okay.
No, I love it. What would you recommend to people that might be struggling or they’re going through the medical field? Are receiving some of the stigmas or feeling some signs of burnout or depression?
You know, what would be your personal recommendation? As somebody that went through it, I felt that once I, and first of all, me going through it is not the same as you going through it. I want to make that completely clear that everyone struggles with mental health in different ways, but I know what it’s like to have issues sleeping at night and feeling like you have low appetite and feeling like just you’re drained and teed and just like not yourself and you just feel out of your body.
Like I, I know how that feels. And when I went and sought help for what I was going through, I became a better doctor. I became more empathetic to somebody coming in and I have some idea of what they’ve gone through and I know what it’s like to reach out for help.
And I know how hard that can be. So if you’re going through it right now, you don’t have to do it alone. There are professionals out there that would love to help you navigate the journey of treatment and whatever that is for you and become the best version of yourself. Because when we’re showing up and we’re struggling and we’re not seeking any help, we’re not the best doctor that we can be the best therapist or the best teacher. Best person in general.
Best person. I think you can ask any partner of somebody who went to therapy and and say like, how is therapy helpful for them? They’ll be like, it was the best ever since therapy. They’ve been more open. They’ve been talking and it doesn’t have to be just therapy. It could be meditation. It could be, you know, whatever self care techniques it is for you.
It can really change your life, make you a better person, make you better at what you do. Yeah, I agree. Same with therapists, you know, it’s like the airplane. Not technique.
Yeah, masks. Save yourself and then. Uh huh. Yeah, save your. You can’t really help anybody else until you help yourself. Yeah, and it applies to a lot. Absolutely.
Absolutely. Well, I want to thank you for coming again and having this important conversation. I think we covered a little bit about everything. We can stay here and talk for hours, of course. Maybe we’ll continue.
But for now, it’s going to be a good bye. Thanks, Michelle. Thank you. Thank you for coming again. Thanks for having me.
I had a blast. Thank you guys for listening or watching. Please don’t forget to like, subscribe and drop us a comment.
Let us know what you thought about this important conversation. Bye. Say bye.
Bye. Yeah, I liked it. That was great. I liked it.