Physician Mental Health
Preventing Suicide & Building Resilience
Christine Moutier, MD
Chief Medical Officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
In this hour-long session, Dr. Moutier will share with participants how the high rates of burnout, depression, and suicide in physicians and other healthcare professionals is leading to changes within the medical profession at all levels. Most mental health problems can be effectively managed, but real and perceived barriers, such as confidentiality concerns and fear of negative ramifications on one’s reputation, licensure, or hospital privileging keep many physicians from addressing their mental health needs. For medical students and physicians in training, others concerns such as cost, lack of time, and fear of a potential negative impact on progression and residency match may keep trainees from seeking support. Unattended distress has ramifications for physicians as well as the healthcare industry and patient safety. There are several initiatives with demonstrated effectiveness in medical settings which can be scaled up for greatest impact: education and stigma reduction efforts, policies and procedures that treat mental health on par with physical health, and efforts that promote an overarching culture of respect. Further strides can be made by addressing hospital and state licensing forms’ questions related to mental health—ensuring that questions pertain to competence rather than illness—or replacing questions altogether with a statement encouraging proactive actions to protect physician mental health and safe practice.
Understand the prevalence, risk and protective factors of burnout, other forms of distress, and suicide in physicians/trainees.
Grasp of the role of stigma as a barrier to help seeking and positive culture change.
Be adept at considering individual as well as organizational strategies to prevent suicide and burnout.