The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about awareness of the adverse mental health impacts on the healthcare field during a time of crisis and challenging working conditions. May 2022 is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The healthcare workforce’s mental health and overall wellness must be protected at all times.
The incidences of stress, burnout, injury, depression and trauma are elevated during an emergency and can lead to anxiety disorders and suicide. Solutions must be developed to overcome health challenges, such as self-care, and workplace strategies must also be developed to help and support the healthcare workforce. Healthcare leaders and health systems need to create changes to protect and treat those employed within the healthcare field.
Health systems have been extremely overwhelmed in terms of capacity and resources, and all while trying to deliver quality care. As a result of the challenges facing the healthcare workforce, there are even more threats to mental health in our communities that have been traumatized. Healthcare providers often suffer in silence due to stigmas surrounding mental illness and those employed in the field of healthcare.
Organizational measures, policies and changes need to address the challenges for healthcare workers in the future. Awareness of the needs of providers and patients in the area of mental health need to be addressed, not only in times of crisis or mental health month, but each and every day.
Establish A Compassionate Culture
There seems to be a “stigma” when it comes to providing mental health. Healthcare providers are evidently not supposed to have their own struggles or feelings of insecurity. If their peers witness this, after all, providers could risk the loss of their job, license or career. It seems health care systems need to begin with themselves by allowing information, resources and peer support.
In order to begin these things, healthcare organizations need to evaluate their number of staff in order to provide this much needed support. In order to implement changes to the culture of your healthcare organization, perhaps certain things need to be put into place. One such solution to consider is locum tenens providers who may take over heavy workloads and relieve some of the burdens of the current staff.
Provide Information and Resources
In order to make the discussion of mental health more of a normality in your healthcare organization, make information and resources available to those providers who want to seek care and treatment. The responsibility to heighten awareness of the importance of mental health begins with healthcare leaders. Make managers and supervisors available to providers to hear honest conversations regarding them and their mental health. Inform healthcare providers of resources which can be made available in-person to assist them with self-care and stress management.
One such program is offered by the World Health Organization to help with stress management, and is called Self-Help Plus (SH+). The program helps to alleviate burnout and high stress during emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peer and Supervisor Support
Developing an environment of support among healthcare staff where they feel free to express their feelings helps to protect healthcare workers’ mental health is critical. Forming differing types of support groups where providers have a chance to offer each other support with their struggles is a way for them to handle stressful encounters. It is a good idea to make this support available to locum providers as well. Welcome them and inform them of all the resources your organization has to offer.
Make Your Healthcare Staff a Priority
There are many ways to update organizational policies to prioritize your healthcare professional’s mental health, but they should also be included in the decision making process of developing these policies. Providers and patients can both take a part by evaluating the different types of mental health services provided. By allowing staff to participate in the process, it will increase their job satisfaction, improve quality of care and work conditions all at the same time. By allowing locum tenens providers to take part in this process, you gain their experience in having worked at other organizations, so they can compare the areas being handled well and the areas that need some improvement.
One idea to be considered with your staff could be to begin allowing mental health breaks. Providers could do such things as take a walk or have access to quiet rooms to let their mind rest and relax from the pressures of the day. Make sure to consider work patterns and conditions to mix tasks according to the weight and intensity of the tasks being performed. By doing this, the tasks are split fairly between providers so no one has to continually perform the more challenging tasks. Placing a cap on shift hours may be a way to allow for sick time, leave time, personal medical appointments or just family time.
In order to allow for breaks, time off, etc., be certain your healthcare facility has adequate staff to cover for these elements. Implementing the use of locum tenens is a great way to ensure there is sufficient staff, and it also relieves some pressure from the permanent staff.
Contact Strategic Practice Solutions if you require personnel coverage for your dental practice currently, for the long-term, vacation coverage, or other things that may pop up, leaving you in need of a qualified temporary healthcare provider to step in.