Perspective: Providers Need to Consider Their Own Mental Health

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"Since the dawn of civilization, the medical profession has been serving humankind, and doctors historically have been seen as the 'healing hands of God,' closer to divine than any other professionals," writes Hatem Soliman Aboumarie, MS, in a "Voice of Cardiology" viewpoint article in the inaugural issue of JACC: Case Reports. While this perception has changed drastically over the last several decades as health care has evolved into more of a business model, it still remains that "few other professions bear such responsibility, accountability and daily stresses."

Aboumarie writes of the need for health care providers to treat others, while also treating themselves. He notes that "doctors are more likely than any other professionals to have mental health problems … probably because of long working hours, the pressure they face in their work, and demanding lives." While patient outcomes and safety have significantly improved, the rates of depression, mental illness and suicide have been on the rise. This trend is global, according to Aboumarie. It is also highly prevalent in the cardiovascular field – a "highly competitive subspecialty" with a "high sense of responsibility."

The solution? "Certainly, one of the main life lessons of the medical profession and the transition from a fellow in training to a senior physician is to speak up and address your concerns," Aboumarie says. He notes the growing prevalence of specialist teams in academic centers that can address burnout or bullying and can provide help when needed.

Addressing clinician well-being is a strategic priority for the ACC. Whether advocating for policies that reduce unnecessary clinician burden in Congress or developing educational content for meetings like ACC's annual Cardiovascular Summit and the ACC Annual Scientific Session, the opportunities to engage on the topic and share best practices are many.

Keywords: Depression, Mental Health, Bullying, Burnout, Professional, Ursidae, Prevalence, Suicide, Depressive Disorder, Physicians, Health Personnel, Social Responsibility, Civilization

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