Sunday, May 11, 2008

see... it's not just us!

Dear doctors, people who go to doctors, and people who look after doctors,

I found an interesting article today that describes how doctors, like the rest of the population, are susceptible to mental health problems... However, according to the article, doctors are very unlikely to seek help, fearing that it will affect their professional status. (The link is available at the bottom of this post.)

"Some doctors believe the stigma of mental illness is magnified in a profession that prides itself on stoicism and bravado. Many fear admitting psychiatric problems could be fatal to their careers, so they suffer in silence."

In an ironic twist, doctors are one of the groups that are LEAST likely to seek treatment for mental health problems, despite all of their education about mental health. And even more ironic, doctors are much more likely than than any other demographic to suicide. (Sadly, they are the most successful at suicide attempts because they have access to drugs and metabolic information that regular old folks don't have.)

"A psychiatrist in the New York area who asked to remain unidentified said he had suicidal thoughts every day for several years. But in medical school in the 1980s, he said he was so embarrassed about seeking help for depression that he went to a pay phone instead of his dorm to call a therapist."

So, isn't it interesting that the very people who keep us healthy are the most likely to have serious issues of mental health?

And doesn't this point to the fact about the detrimental effects of stigmatization? Doctors are so afraid to "come out" about mental illness because they fear it will affect their careers and their status.

"There could be reasons the stigma would be worse for doctors, "but you can come up with just as many reasons why physicians would be better equipped to acknowledge" mental illness, she said."

It's a strong indicator of how pervasive the effects of stigmatization are when some of our most informed citizens (in terms of understanding problems of mental health and their effects) are detrimentally reluctant to seek treatment for their own mental health issues. Very interesting how what's good for the gander is NOT good for the goose... very interesting, but mostly, very very sad.

Here's the article.
Medical know-how, access to drugs raises suicide risk for doctors

Wishing everyone good health,


T.Allen-Mercado said...

I find that fix-it types venture into medical professions seeking namely, the answers to their own queries through the travails of others. At least that was my plan until it all crashed.I must sayon a personal note, pretending to be "sane" made me "crazier" than simply allowing myself to be. If only that worked as well for my career.

Occupant (aka Olivia) said...

Sadly, pretending gets us nowhere, from my experience.

My wish is that no one would ever have to pretend. That "it" (a diagnosis, a personal history) just wouldn't matter.

Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part.