Utah Physicians Facing Unique Mental Health Concerns Due to COVID-19
Doctors can be uniquely susceptible to mental health conditions like anxiety, panic disorder, and depression, and burnout due to the high-stress nature of their professions as well as the stigma around seeking treatment for mental illness. One study found that 46% of surveyed physicians reported burnout, with even higher rates in front line doctors (family medicine, general internal medicine, and emergency medicine).
Two recent news articles out of Utah, found on NPR Utah and ABC4 News, discuss the growing mental health concerns the medical community faces, especially for those on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.
As Megan Call, a psychologist at the University of Utah’s Health’s Resiliency Center explained, the coronavirus is uncharted territory and she has been hearing from physicians and others that they are feeling emotionally exhausted, unable to connect with patients, and no longer feeling as if their work is worthwhile. Call has been leading COVID-19 debriefing sessions for university medical staff, which serve as an opportunity for physicians and others to talk about how their work is impacting their mental health.
Support can be especially important when experiencing extreme stress and mental health conditions in the workplace, but coronavirus has made it difficult for physicians to reach out to traditional supports like family and friends, as they have had to physically distance themselves from loved ones in order to protect them.
During these difficult times, it is important for physicians to keep their own health and their patient’s health in mind, and not push themselves beyond their limits. If you are a physician struggling with mental health limitations, an experienced disability attorney can help you evaluate if it would be appropriate to consider a disability claim under the circumstances.
It is also important for physicians to seek help from mental health professionals and other avenues that remain available to them. For example, Dr. Morissa Henn, Community Health Director for Intermountain Healthcare (headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah) recommends that healthcare workers focus on self-care, including through exercise, mindfulness activities, limiting exposure to news and social media, and confiding in people they trust.
These posts are for informative purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with and diagnosis by a medical professional. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above and have yet to consult with a doctor, do not use this resource to self-diagnose. Please contact your doctor immediately and schedule an appointment to be evaluated for your symptoms.
Jon Reed, Doctors Already Face Mental Health Concerns – Coronavirus Isn’t Helping, NPR Utah, April 21, 2020.
Rosie Nguyen, Battling the mental health crisis for medical workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, ABC4 News, April 28, 2020.
 Michael R. Privitera, et. al, Physician Burnout and Occupational Stress: An inconvenient trust with unintended consequences, Journal of Hospital Administration, 2015, Vol. 4, No. 1