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GOING DIGITAL: BEHAVIORAL HEALTH TECH INSIGHTS

Burnout of Mental Health Providers: What You Need To Know

Published on:
May 6, 2022

Ahead of the Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech Conference, we will be sharing some insights that you can expect to learn more about during the conference. Dr. Quidest “Dr. Kiki” Sheriff, DO, MS is the founder and CEO of Doctors Under the Radar (Doc U R), a company focused on physician mental health that engages healthcare leaders, creates transformational workplace change with mental health and suicide prevention strategies, and design health-tech data driven solutions. Dr. Kiki sat down with our very own Solome Tibebu to discuss her experience with burnout and her decision to create Doctors Under the Radar.

Clinician Burnout 

As Dr. Kevin Hopkins recently explained for the American Medical Association, physician burnout is “a combination of physical and emotional exhaustion that can lead to reduced effectiveness-either real or perceived.” Doctors and all mental health professionals are experiencing extremely high rates of burnout, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, medical students are two to five times more likely to experience depression than their age matched peers.

In 2018, the American Psychological Association estimated that 21-61% of mental health practitioners were experiencing burnout, and a 2020 study found that 78% of Psychiatrists screened in the study were positive for signs of burnout. To combat the growing need for mental health treatment and due to an ongoing shortage of mental health providers, in November 2020 one third of Psychologists report seeing more patients since the start of the pandemic and 30% said they have not been able to keep up with demand for treatment.

Mantra Health, a digital mental health company, recently released a white paper on provider burnout in counseling centers. In their sample 91.4% of respondents reported burnout and 45% of clinicians agreed or strongly agreed that their workload compromises their ability to provide quality care.

How can organizations who employ physicians and mental health providers help?

Dr. Jessica Gold, a practicing Psychiatrist, so eloquently explained in a Forbes article last year, “therapists are a limited resource and cannot, no matter how much they try, make up for a broken mental health system with extra hours, night and weekend accommodations.” So in order to improve provider burnout, we have to think about how organizations and employers can make changes. 

Clinician burnout has downstream effects on the entire healthcare system. Clinician burnout is costing the health care system about $4.6 billion a year. Additionally, studies show that if things continue the way they are, by 2025, 75% of healthcare workers may leave the profession.

In our discussion, Dr. Kiki stated that it's important for health systems to “create an atmosphere where it’s okay to state that you’re experiencing burnout and to ask health systems, what initiatives do you have in place to engage your clinicians?” Additionally, Dr. Kiki emphasizes that it's important to have an internal audit to “talk to your clinicians to understand what their problems are, and this will drive your solutions.”

Solutions that health systems and other organizations create must focus on three pillars that support intrinsic motivation and psychological well being: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. So solutions may involve reallocating resources so clinicians feel they have more control over their schedule, and are less burned by administrative tasks. Additionally, the Mantra Health white paper suggests creating solutions that focus on they key themes of togetherness, openness, boundaries, and increasing meaning.

What tools are out there?

Doctors Under the Radar strives to provide resources and support for all clinicians in the workplace through strategic consulting, health-tech innovation, and media. As part of their strategic consulting initiatvie, Doc U R partners with healthcare organizations to normalize mental health and suicide prevention in the workplace, including culture management, leadership engagement, and data-driven decision making tools. 

Mantra Health is a digital mental health provider for university students that works with university counseling centers to support existing providers, expand capacity, and reduce administrative burdens for existing providers. Therapists employed by Mantra Health are also able to create their own schedules, for greater autonomy. Additionally, the Mantra-affiliated providers can collaborate with the on campus providers to give comprehensive care coordination to university students.

Things to remember

  1. Burnout is bad for everyone 

Burnout can lead to increased loss of empathy, impaired job performance, and increased medical mistakes. It can also lead to greater costs to the healthcare system, including clinicians leaving the workforce.

  1. Clinician time and autonomy is important

To reduce burnout, clinicians of all kinds need to feel that their time is valuable and they can have autonomy in their work.

  1. Clinicians are human

As Dr. Kiki mentions, “and just one other thing that I would like to see is just that we change the face of medicine, in which doctors are seen as superheroes, and they constantly have to wear that cape, which dehumanizes them and makes it harder for them to be true to themselves.”

To watch the entire interview with Dr. Kiki and hear about her personal struggle with burnout, please join us for the Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech conference on June 8-9, 2022. Registration to the conference is free, or consider making an optional donation to our 2022 non-profit partner, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Want a lot more digital mental health and substance use insights? Subscribe to our behavioral health tech newsletter here.

Want a lot more digital mental health and substance use insights? Subscribe to our behavioral health tech newsletter here.

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