Richa Madaan

Richa Madaan

8 Ways Medical Professionals Can Cope with the Mental Health Crisis

  Jan 16, 2024
Reviewed by Ayushi Jain

Cope with mental health crises

Medical professionals are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems compared to other professions – and it’s not hard to see why. 

The nature of the work is highly demanding and can often lead to emotional exhaustion, compassion fatigue, and burnout. 

Especially the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health. Frontline workers have experienced stress throughout and are overwhelmed with work. 

So for those working in the high-stress environment of healthcare, it’s quite obvious that certain challenges can take a significant toll on intellectual health.

It’s not very easy to help others when you’re struggling yourself. That’s why medical professionals have to prioritize their well-being. 

Even “The World Health Organization” advised healthcare workers to prioritize self-care.

But it can be tricky to know how to do this and where to even start. That’s why we’ve penned some fruitful tips on better managing your cognitive health.

Its Origin: What Causes Mental Health Problems?

The topic of cognitive health is quite broad. It’s not limited to some specific causes, hence, the causes of intellectual health issues can be even broader. Think about your personal experiences.

Fast Fact:
Research has revealed that some mental health problems may run in families.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety or depression, what was going on in your life that contributed to those feelings?

Now let’s look at healthcare professionals specifically. Several factors contribute to cognitive health problems among people working in healthcare including:

  • Long working hours and heavy workloads.
  • Fear of making mistakes.
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Trying to balance work and personal responsibilities.
  • Lack of physical safety.
  • Bereavement.
  • Experiencing discrimination and stigma.
  • Unemployment or lost job.
  • Conflicts between colleagues.
  • Lack of psychological support.

When healthcare professionals struggle with the factors listed above, it can lead to burnout, depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders, and other issues that affect both their noetic and physical health in negative ways.

This work-related stress can also have a detrimental effect on the quality of care that’s being provided to patients. 

It’s therefore paramount to recognize the signs and address the problem.

Signs of Mental Stress in Healthcare Workers

If you’re experiencing any of the following signs as a healthcare professional, you could be suffering from cognitive stress:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia and exhaustion.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Increasing confusion.
  • Anger.
  • Self-isolation.

Which can ultimately lead to:

  • Psychological trauma.
  • Compassion fatigue.
  • Burnout.

Where to Start: 8 Strategies for Coping with Mental Health Issues

Strategies for Coping with Mental Health Issues

Start by Prioritising Self-Care

Have you scrolled through social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok in the last year? Well, then you’ll have probably heard of “self-care” being thrown around a lot. 

You might immediately think it’s some passing trend, but we’re here to tell you that it’s here to stay.

Incorporating some self-care rituals into your daily or weekly routine is vital for all healthcare professionals. 

It’s a way of putting yourself first. When you take a moment to look after yourself in little ways, it can be a great way to manage stress levels and improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Here are three self-care strategies that you can incorporate into your life that have a positive impact on your life:

Make Time for Yourself

Remember when the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Australia in 2020? 

There were so many changes taking place as measures like lockdowns and work-from-home policies were brought into our lives. 

But there was one major takeaway a lot of us took from this time – and that was that taking a while out for yourself is essential.

Mental health stats

The statistics demonstrate the mental health of healthcare workers among those who did or did not experience harassment.
The report says that the percentage of workers who reported feeling anxiety very often is 85% (who experience harassment) and 53% (who did not experience harassment). 

But what does this takeaway mean? Well firstly, it showed us that we need to attend to our own needs above all else. And this isn’t us being selfish, it’s a necessity. It’s self-care.

Making time for yourself will look different for different people. Some will choose to set time aside to read a new book whereas others might opt to go indulge in a deep tissue massage.

No matter what your choice is, this is your chance to disconnect from work-related stress and rejuvenate by making the deliberate choice to do something that makes you feel good.

Get Some Exercise In

A healthy body facilitates a healthier mind. So what better way to participate in caring for yourself than by including some physical activity into your everyday life? 

And it doesn’t have to be a lot – just 30 minutes a day is all it takes!

There are so many ways to get some exercise in your routine. It’s not something that has to be boring, exhausting, or tedious. 

You should look forward to it! You could break up your workday with a lunchtime walk. 

Consider taking up a sport in your free span. You could also include your friends in the fun by scheduling a hike, yoga class or nature walk together.

With regular exercise comes an improved mood, lowered stress levels, and improved sleep patterns. So what are you waiting for? Get started!

Eat Healthier Food

Food plays a pretty significant role in how we feel on a day-to-day basis. 

So if you’re not feeding your body fresh, nutritious food that’s good for it, then the chances are you’re going to feel it. 

If you’re thinking it’s easier and faster to turn to junk and fast foods, then think again.

There are plenty of meal service plans you can sign up for. It’s the easiest way to free up more of your time and stick to eating healthy. 

From Dinnerly to HelloFresh, you can skip grocery shopping and the stress of having to plan entire meals out and shop for what you need. 

The convenience of this is one of the best ways to help you lessen your stress levels concerning meal prepping for the week. 

Look to Outside Support

Taking the steps towards making little changes to different aspects of your lifestyle is super helpful. 

There’s no doubt that taking the time out to do things you enjoy and nourishing your body with the proper food and some exercises are highly beneficial changes to make.

Do You Know?:
As per the latest survey, more than 70% of the respondents answered that “getting family support” and “positive thinking” were the coping methods that helped them most.  

To balance out the steps you take to look after yourself, it’s good to ensure you have a system of support that extends past just yourself. 

Take a while to build strong, healthy relationships with your friends, family, colleagues, and others who have experienced similar feelings and thoughts to you.

Below, we’ve listed a bunch of great options to look into if you need some external support.

Support Groups

You’re not alone in feeling how you do. Participating in a support group offers dual benefits: receiving support for yourself and providing it to others simply by being present. 

This mutual support during challenging moments can be immensely satisfying and beneficial. 

You may discover support groups at your workplace, or you might opt to explore external options through associations. 

Whichever path you choose, engaging in such a community can be extremely helpful.

Online Resources

There are many online resources you can look at to help guide you through your periods of stress and anxiety. 

Make use of them and find information that is relevant to you. If you are suffering from a symptom in particular, look it up and find out what information is available.

It’s worth considering completing online medical courses which can also offer valuable resources and strategies for managing these challenges. 

The more you learn, the better off you’ll be to overcome obstacles and complete your work to the best of your ability.

Professional Help

Over the ages, there has been a stigma associated with intellectual illness. Besides, negative societal perceptions discourage people from speaking openly about it.

The good news is that the tides have turned over the last decade.

Keep this in mind, you should never feel any shame about seeking the help of a qualified professional. It’s what they’re there to do after all. 

Much of the world is coming forward to take progressive steps toward ending mental health stigmas.

When you’re able to schedule the time, it can be really helpful to talk to someone who can help you make sense of things – from your thoughts and feelings to your behavior and lived experiences. 

Seeking psychological or professional help actively constitutes various immediate and long-term benefits.

Not sure what to talk about? That’s okay! There are plenty of resources you can refer to online to help you get an idea of where to start. 

But to help you get an idea, it’s always good to start off with the “small” issues until you feel more comfortable.

Take little steps initially and then discuss major concerns. 

Discuss what you think is bothering you, your sleeping pattern, physical changes (if any), and every itsy-bitsy detail you might think can help professionals tailor solutions. 

What better time to start looking after your intellectual health than in the present? 

It’s the moment to start thinking about what’s causing you lots of stress, why it’s a cause for concern, and how to manage and potentially overcome these noetic health challenges. 

If you’re starting with the small steps or making the big changes, taking care of yourself is the first step toward taking care of others.