Reducing the stigma around mental health

Tags: anticipate joy, texas academy of family physicians

By Anticipate Joy

As physicians, you are used to constantly helping and providing for your patients. However, there is a sense of stigma around doctors taking care of themselves — particularly in mental health. Suffering from depression, burnout, and suicide occur in higher rates among medical professionals than almost any other profession. There is so much stigma around doctors getting mental health care, as if a person is less fit to fulfill their profession if they are seeking out help. We would never shame someone for seeking treatment for a physical disease, and it should not be any different for someone struggling mentally.

Prejudice and stigma around mental illness will keep people from seeking out the help they need and deserve. Here is some advice for helping reduce stigma in your workplace.

Be the first to break the silence. Discussing mental health and the struggles it may bring seems to be “taboo.” By being the one starting the conversation, you are normalizing discussing the topic of mental health, therefore helping other physicians in your workplace to feel comfortable discussing it, too.

Choose your words carefully. In our society, there is a tendency to misuse words associated with mental illness, such as stating “you gave me a panic attack” when something surprises you, or “I’m depressed” over a slightly disappointing circumstance. However, when these phrases are used, it can be triggering or insensitive to those struggling with mental illness. Be conscious about the words you use at work (and everywhere else) so those battling a mental disease don’t feel negated.

Engage in supportive conversation. If someone shares that they are struggling mentally, encourage them to seek out help and don’t invalidate the way they are feeling. Telling someone who’s struggling with depression or anxiety to simply “be happier” or “stress less” accomplishes absolutely nothing and only hurts the person. Instead, offer support and share resources that could help someone.

Take your own advice. You are constantly offering treatment services, sharing resources, and providing advice for your patients struggling with mental illness. As physicians, you are educated on the topic of mental health. It is time that you apply that education toward yourself and take the advice you are offering your patients. You cannot be the best doctor or your best self until you are taken care of.

Take advantage of mental health resources. TAFP has a partnership with Anticipate Joy, offering deeply discounted counseling services with our licensed mental health providers. You are cared about and are deserving of support, which is why TAFP wants to make sure you are getting the help you need. Use these services if you are struggling, so you can be the best, mentally healthiest version of yourself.

Stigma is a very difficult thing that puts up lots of barriers around receiving mental health treatment, especially for those working in the medical field. We at Anticipate Joy want you to try out these steps to help combat stigma in the workplace and within yourself. Here’s to being your best you and living stigma-free.

5 easy steps to get started

  • 1. Get Access. Use the customized scan code or this link to access your organization’s mental health benefits.
  • 2. Complete a brief intake. Answer a few questions about you.
  • 3. Purchase session(s). Take advantage of the low TAFP member rate. Purchase up to four sessions.
  • 4. Select a therapist. Review available therapists using filters and request a therapist that best fits your needs.
  • 5. Pick a time. After the therapist approves your request, select an appointment time that works for you and your therapist.

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