Emergency Medicine Educators
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When it comes to mental health care in EM, academic leaders and educators are key influencers. Not only are they often the first to notice and address mental health struggles in their students, as mentors they are in a position to reduce stigma by modeling mental health self-care and normalizing help seeking. Moreover, their position of leadership allows them to identify innovative approaches to resilience training and mental health treatment and integrate comprehensive wellness and mental health support into the learning environment.
- Understand the structural barriers to mental health care
- Be a Wellness Role Model
- Practice the four domains of self-care: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
- Speak often and openly about health and wellness and continue wellness training throughout your career.
- Reduce stigma by normalizing help-seeking and prioritizing self-care.
- Ensure learners understand they are participating in a psychologically and physically safe environment where it is safe to speak up or ask for help.
- Normalize help-seeking behavior.
- Demonstrate that anxiety and vulnerability are normal and expected in difficult situations
- Encourage students to express their thoughts, questions, and concerns, and feel comfortable admitting mistakes without fear of embarrassment and retribution.
- Promote cognitive behavioral therapy to build coping and self-care skills. .
- Develop a curriculum that preserves idealism and humanism, and makes time for gratitude, mindfulness, and reflection to prevent student burnout. .
- Encourage contemplation sessions that allow medical students to process chaos and trauma privately.
- From Preventing Clinician Suicide: A Call to Action During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond:
- Ensure policies at the undergraduate and graduate medical education levels provide trainees with the greatest access to mentors, support, and mental health care without punitive consequences (e.g., build in debriefs following critical incidents, encourage therapy to optimize resilience, allow for access to treatment within and outside the institution when feasible).
- Be transparent. Communicate clearly about how trainees’ mental health challenges are handled by the institution.
- Prioritize and promote a growth mindset (e.g., “Every clinician struggles at times. It’s a sign of strength to address challenges. It’s commendable not to wait until the point of crisis to get help.”).
- Continuously provide information about how trainees can access support, guidance, and mental health treatment. List resources on the back of I.D. cards, on program websites, etc.
- Introduce self-care early in the curriculum as a practice linked to professionalism that can be cultivated throughout one’s career.
- Provide opportunities for storytelling to set new norms with hopeful narratives for addressing struggles.
- Enhance peer support by teaching trainees how to reach out and respond to distressed peers, cultivate active listening skills, and use available resources for support.
- Model mental health self-care by disclosing personal struggles when appropriate and explaining that everyone needs to lean on others for support or treatment.