Trigger warning: the following podcast episode talks about depression, self-harm, & suicide. If you are not in a headspace to listen to this episode today, that’s okay friend. You can skip this episode, listen to it when you’re ready, but do what you need to to care for yourself today.
This is not the podcast episode I wanted to record. But it is absolutely something I’ve avoided on the podcast so far, & it’s doing a disservice to you & me & our patients.
It’s up to you to take care of yourself.
It’s up to us to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, no one else will. We must take care of ourselves because if we don’t, then we can’t care for our patients.
This means we have to cut the martyr mentality. When you need help, ask for help. Ask for help multiple times from multiple people. Get professional help.
PTs are not exempt from experiencing mental health challenges.
It’s important for you to recognize that mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and burnout are not uncommon among healthcare professionals, including themselves. In fact, studies have shown that healthcare workers, including physical therapists, have higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population. Acknowledging and accepting this reality is the first step towards seeking help when needed.
Know what resources are available.
Physical therapists can access a range of resources for mental health support, including employee assistance programs (EAPs), peer support groups, mental health hotlines, online counseling services, and mental health apps. These resources can provide support, guidance, and counseling to help you cope with the stress and emotional demands of your work, and can also be valuable in addressing issues related to depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Take action to prevent suicide.
Suicide prevention is a critical component of mental health support for physical therapists. In addition to seeking support and treatment for mental health issues, take proactive steps to prevent suicide by staying informed about suicide warning signs, encouraging colleagues to seek help when needed, & advocating for workplace policies that support mental health and well-being. You can also participate in suicide prevention training programs to learn effective strategies for supporting those at risk of suicide.
According to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline website, “the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.”
Last thing: dear healthcare provider, you are so loved, valued, & appreciated. It may not feel like it, but you are everything to your patients, your colleagues, your friends, your family, & this OncoPT community. Do not give up hope, & please take care of yourself.
Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.