Stop the Stigma EM Toolkit

October Is #StopTheStigmaEM Month!

SAEM’s #StopTheStigmaEM Month in October brings EM organizations nationwide together to break down barriers to mental health care in EM. Follow us on social media as we drive education, awareness, and policy changes for better mental health support in emergency medicine. Join us as we share helpful resources you can use and actions you can take to help change the culture of silence and stigma into a culture of hope and strength. Don't miss October's #StopTheStigmaEM Month— together, we can reshape mental health in emergency medicine.

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Breaking Stigma in Emergency Medicine

The demanding and high-pressure nature of emergency medicine predisposes EM physicians to stress, anxiety, and burnout, yet mental health stigma hinders them from seeking necessary care. The fear of appearing weak hampers discussions around mental health. This silence perpetuates untreated issues, harming doctors and affecting patient care. To combat this challenge, we must prioritize mental well-being. By creating confidential support networks and encouraging open conversations, medical institutions can break the stigma cycle. This shift benefits clinicians, care quality, and patient outcomes.

The Collaborative Approach

In response to this mental health care stigma in emergency medicine, a coalition of emergency medicine (EM) organizations came together in 2021 to form an EM Mental Health Collaborative. Its purpose is to challenge mental health stigma and spread key messages:

  • Mental health strain in emergency medicine is a threat to clinicians, teams, and patient care
  • Identifying mental health stress and distress early is critical for individuals to get the support they need to sustain their health and careers
  • Significant stigma still exists across EM in acknowledging the toll of our work on our mental health and in accessing mental health support
  • Normalizing the conversation about mental health in EM is an essential first step
  • Lowering the barriers to mental health care and supporting the practice of self-compassion and self-care will improve and strengthen our teams, ourselves, and patient care

A Call to Action

The EM Mental Health Collaborative also calls on policy makers, EM department chairs, residency program directors, and other institutional leaders, health care professionals, and advocates to commit to and assiduously work toward the following campaign objectives:

  • Normalize the need for mental health support in Emergency Medicine.
  • Create initiatives for clinicians' mental health well-being.
  • Educate EM physicians about seeking therapy and treatment.
  • Cultivate a mental health-friendly workplace culture.
  • Encourage educators to share personal mental health experiences.
  • Promote support for individuals in distress.
  • Train peers to assist distressed colleagues.
  • Provide resources for institutions to support mental health.
  • Advocate for open mental health discussions and policies.
  • Address discriminatory practices related to mental health.