Clinicians across the country have shown unyielding dedication, unmatched determination and a commitment to patient care in the face of often insurmountable odds during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, they have experienced the burdensome emotional and physical toll of a seemingly never-ending wave of variants. The persistent exhaustion and anxiety associated with this amount of stress are understandable. They are often detrimental to clinicians and their physical and mental health. Together, we are working to break the stigma to prevent clinician suicide.
Suicide Rates Among Clinicians
In 2021, 42% of physicians reported feeling burnt out according to Medscape’s Physician Burnout and Suicide Report. Of physicians surveyed, 13% have had thoughts of suicide Each year, 300-400 clinicians die by suicide. That is roughly one doctor dying every day, which is nearly double the rate of the general population.
The suicide rate among male physicians is 1.41 times higher than the general male population. Among female physicians, the relative risk is even more pronounced — 2.27 times greater than the general female population.
Long-standing issues faced by clinicians, such as burnout and depression were intensified by the added stress of fighting a global pandemic. National averages also show an increase in physician substance misuse during COVID-19.
To combat these issues, clinicians and healthcare organizations must prioritize intentional, focused wellness and mental health support during the pandemic and in the future. When clinicians are empowered to care for their mental well-being, systems see improved patient care with engaged, high-functioning teams.
However, clinicians do not always pursue the help they need, largely due to the stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment. It is vital to provide consistent communication, resources and education around clinician burnout and wellness to remove this stigma. Eliminating barriers to mental healthcare treatment are key to this endeavor.
TeamHealth’s Wellness Commitment
Over the past 10 years, TeamHealth has focused time and resources on clinician well-being, understanding that clinicians must be cared for to deliver vital care to patients. TeamHealth continues to expand clinician support programs recognizing the need for clinician well-being connection points, such as consistent wellness calls. Additionally, increased resources and clinical updates are fundamental to empowering clinicians to deliver safe, high-quality care to patients nationwide during difficult times. Beyond clinical support, TeamHealth also prioritizes educating and empowering leaders to identify clinicians who are struggling to provide early intervention to prevent clinician suicide.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (Languages: English, Spanish).