By: Sara C. Hussey – ACMS Executive Director
Physician suicide is a profoundly distressing and often underreported issue within the healthcare industry. These individuals, who dedicate their lives to serving others, are disproportionately affected by mental health issues and burnout. According to a study published in JAMA Surgery, physicians have a 1.4 to 2.3 times higher risk of suicide compared to the general population. This alarming statistic serves as a wake-up call, urging us to confront the hidden crisis within the medical community.
The ACMS’s annual “Putting Selfcare in Healthcare” campaign is not merely about providing discounts and prizes to our members. Our larger goal is to raise public awareness of this pressing issue that demands attention. As the Executive Director of the Allegheny County Medical Society, I hear directly from our physician members who are struggling to find balance. They face heavy demands from their health systems, they are required to keep up with changing medical legislation, and they must find time to properly document their notes in their EMR system. Additionally, they confront misinformation regarding treatments, medications, vaccinations, and more. Healthcare providers also experience the distress of loss of lives, physical exhaustion, and increasingly challenging conditions such as increased bureaucracy demands and staffing shortages. Amidst all of this, many of them have families, pets, hobbies, and other responsibilities that require the limited time they have available outside of work. Doesn’t just reading that paragraph make you feel exhausted?
It is imperative to break the stigma surrounding mental health in the medical community. We hope this campaign will encourage open conversations, provide resources, and create an environment where seeking help is not viewed as a sign of weakness. Throughout this month of September, we are committed to expanding our reach at ACMS. We have asked local businesses to support physicians suffering from burnout, and many local businesses have responded positively to this request. Our goal is to destigmatize the culture in healthcare that perpetuates exhaustion and personal sacrifice as a badge of honor. We believe that improving personal wellness will lead to professional wellness, not the other way around. Please join us throughout the month of September as we raise awareness, provide support, and yes, offer a couple of prize giveaways along the way.
We understand that changing deeply ingrained cultures, systems, and policies in healthcare takes time, legislation, and a shift in mindset. However, we also recognize that every physician matters. We aim to offer simple ways to decompress, help alleviate smaller burdens, and encourage physicians to draw motivation from their families. By doing so, we hope our physicians can make positive changes and enhance their overall well-being.
Be sure to follow us on all of our social media channels for continuous updates throughout the month (and for your chances to win some of our great prizes!).