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With COVID’s growing toll on the mental health and well-being of emergency care providers, the movement to break down barriers to mental health care in emergency medicine has never been more critical; fortunately, the commitment to the cause is growing as institutions and emergency medicine organizations launch strategies and initiatives and developing policies and procedures designed to protect the mental health and well-being of health care providers, increase awareness to mental health issues, provide mental health care resources, and normalize the seeking of mental health care. Here are a few examples of some of the work currently being done by institutions and EM organizations to put a stop to mental health stigma in EM:
- Incorporate questions related to self-care into board certification and continuing education to emphasize that, alongside medical knowledge, technical skills, and empathy for others, the ability to optimize one’s own mental health, including availing oneself of mental health care, is an essential component of professional responsibility.
- Follow the recommendations of the Federation of State Medical Boards , and others to refrain from asking questions about clinicians’ mental health.
- Launch communication strategies so clinicians in each organization’s jurisdiction are aware of the protections afforded to them should they seek therapy, psychiatric treatment, and addiction recovery; policies and procedures related to matters of health must be transparent and effectively communicated.
- Develop initiatives that help clinicians safely address their own suicide risk factors and health concerns.
- Assign therapists to strategic locations (e.g., cafeteria, staff lounges, emergency department) to provide easy access for staff.
- Conduct a 5-minute debrief at the end of every shift; make debriefing a routine part of the day.
- Increase awareness of available support resources.