Empathy is the ability to sense, think, and feel the emotions of another person. Having a high level of empathy is what makes healthcare professionals great at their jobs. It is also what makes them vulnerable to developing vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma is when empathy is in overdrive. This leads to a healthcare professional experiencing substantial levels of pain, terror, fear, and other emotions that are seen in the professional’s patient. In general, the experience of excess empathy and vicarious trauma occurs throughout a professional’s lifetime. Often, an individual can easily cope with these feelings without professional help.
However, during the 2020 year, the ability to manage vicarious trauma for many healthcare professionals has been pushed to the limit. Not only is there a need to cope with the daily stress of engaging in jobs that are dangerous and can lead to death, there is also an increased frequency of encounters that are marked by anxiety, depression, hate, frustration, anger, and fear.
In the last several months, first responders and healthcare professionals have admitted to higher rates of anxiety, depression, insomnia, cognitive difficulties, and a trauma. First responders and healthcare professionals having one of the fastest rising rates of completed suicide. Yet the number of individuals seeking treatment has not necessarily increased. Why is that? The answer is simple: stigma.
Despite great gains with acceptance of mental health symptoms, those working in healthcare still fear stigma. There is worry about feelings being minimized, as many are told “you went into this job, what did you expect”. There is worry about being judged by family and friends. There is worry about being deemed unfit to complete job duties by superiors and colleagues. But most important, there is self-doubt and the nagging question of if the job can still be performed.
The answer is a “YES”. The professionals within At Your Service Psychiatry understand the complex issues associated with obtaining treatment. Our services are provided at your convenience, around your work hours, and are completely confidential. Telepsychiatry is offered for those who feel unsure about attending in-office appointments. Appointments are via video. Our goal is to help you increase your health and ability to feel comfortable at your job.