National Physician Suicide Awareness Day is here to help everyone prevent physician suicide – including physicians, their colleagues and their loved ones. We need to come together and break down the culture of silence around physician mental health. It’s a time to talk – and to act – so physicians’ struggles don’t become mental health emergencies.
What You Can Do
The following are 5 evidence-based actions physicians can do – and their loved ones and colleagues can encourage – to help prevent suicide.
- Cultivate daily self-care habits by being curious about “how you tick” (i.e., take note of and practice the activities that lead to positive outcomes).
- Realize that mental health is a dynamic part of human health, which means individuals can have some influence over their own mental health outcomes (e.g., staying on effective treatment for a recurrent pattern of depression or anxiety to positively affect mental health).
- Look out for colleagues. Realize that subtle changes in behavior can be the “tip of the iceberg” indicating more significant struggles.
- Do not assume that accomplished peers have it together and never struggle (i.e., check in on strong friends).
- Learn how to have caring conversations, colleague to colleague, that invite deeper disclosure.
- When dialoguing with a distressed colleague, remember that with distress comes negative cognitive distortions, so it is critically important to state the obvious—that you respect them, think well of them for getting help, are willing to help them connect with treatment, and will continue to be there for them. If you have struggled previously, you may have special empathy that you can marshal to help them understand they are not alone.
Find additional support and resources visit our new Physician Wellness page. CAFP will continue to update and add other types of wellness resources in the coming weeks.