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A survey shows physicians hesitate to seek mental health treatment

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 6:29 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As stress during the pandemic grows, a new study shows physicians are hesitant to seek mental health treatment.

A new poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians, shows 45 percent of physicians are not comfortable seeking mental health treatment.

One Topeka doctor says those who care for others, have a tough time addressing their own mental health care.

Dr. George Wright is Stormont Vail’s medical director of primary care and he says the COVID-19 pandemic has doctors under extra pressure.

“We do put further pressures on ourselves and those that work with us,” Dr. Wright said. “I think health care is very stressful, and I think that change is very stressful and this has been a time of just crazy change."

“We’ve had to do things very differently where working with an illness that we’re just trying to figure out and we’re trying to explain how we’re matching things when it’s changing all the time, I think those are all challenges,” Dr. Wright explained. “The personal protective equipment employed so broadly is different than I’ve ever experienced. It’s harder to listen, it’s harder to hear with a mask, and face shield and distance. I think we just have to turn up our empathy, turn up our ears and listen better."

The survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians also found 87 percent of physicians feel more stress since the start of the pandemic.

Dr. Wright says it can be difficult for physicians to focus on themselves, “I think we all go into health care with the understanding we’re going to help others and sometimes that means we work longer hours, with attention to care for ourselves and for others.”

“It’s not always appropriate to share what are fears are, personal fears, our concerns for their health are foremost,” he added.

For himself, Dr. Wright says taking a step back is important, “trying to get completely away, in some fashion, the stresses of the office, of the hospital, trying to connect with family members through electronic means.”

The survey also found 27 percent of physicians have avoided seeking mental health treatment for fear of professional repercussions.

You can read and find the full results to the survey here.

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