Mental health in Medicine: Healthcare worker's guide to re-entry


The Pandemic caused a massive disruption to many people’s lives, but perhaps most so to those working in the medical field. Whether you’re working in direct, front-line health care, or as a clinical researcher, it’s more important than ever before to look after your mental health and be aware of the resources available to you and your peers.


During an MHA survey that ran for the majority of 2020, health care workers have been experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, stress, burnout, fear, and generally becoming overwhelmed. This arose in part due to the emotional and physical exhaustion of facing the pandemic’s death toll on a daily basis and fear of exposing their loved ones to the disease. Other concerns included a lack of emotional support in their workplaces, and inability to parent as usual or spend the time they’d like to with their children. In order to combat these worrisome trends, the American Medical Association recommends a few strategies. These may be helpful to all healthcare workers or medical researchers who now face re-entry to relatively “normal” times ahead, which can in many cases feel just as overwhelming.


Give yourself permission to feel

While under the immense pressure to perform medical services or resume clinical research, it’s understandably difficult to find time to confront the feelings of sadness and fear you may be struggling with. Feeling these things in response to whatever horrible situations you’ve had to face these last long months is not under any circumstances a sign of weakness. You are allowed to feel anything and everything. Whether it’s hopelessness and distress, or nothing much at all, your feelings are valid and are a normal response to unimaginable stress -- give yourself a chance to process them whenever you do get a moment to breathe.


Perform regular check-ins with yourself.

Make sure that you keep an eye on your feelings, and be aware of who you can reach out to for help if they become unbearable or prolonged feelings of sadness and stress. These may indicate the development of depression/anxiety disorders, to which no one is immune and you should feel no shame in developing. Carers need care too, now especially. Speak with someone on your team, such as a supervisor or other trusted colleague for advice on professional help. Additionally, hold yourself accountable when you have these check-ins. Make sure that you’re employing any coping strategies you’ve used successfully in the past, such as resting enough at night or in between shifts, and trying to eat enough whole, healthy foods to maintain your mental and physical fitness.


Take breaks from the news and social media

It’s easier today than ever before to become caught up in “doom-scrolling” through news and social media updates about the world around us. It’s vital to use these media tools mindfully, and to intentionally unplug every now and then to ease feelings of helplessness and overwhelming emotions. Especially as we move into increased socializing again, there’s a lot of media that’s portraying only the worst of this “re-entry” period, and it’s easy to let fear overtake the moments of peace and joy you may also get to look forward to now.


Read more about the AMA’s advice here, and make looking after yourself a priority. We’re grateful for all you do, and everyone here at Citruslabs is rooting for you in the coming months.


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