Helpers Hurt Too
When the weight of the world is balanced on your shoulders, where do you turn for help? Unsurprisingly, mental health professionals too experience socioemotional disregulation which impacts mental health and wellness. Over exposure to clinical material, instances of countertransference, compounding stress, poor lifestyle balance and lack of support are factors impacting the mental health outcomes for this vulnerable group.
According to Hyatt (2016), “the following five themes were found within the domain of lifetime prevalence of mental illness and psychological distress among MHPs: psychiatric disorders reported reaching at approximately 81%, substance use (primarily ethanol) vacillating from 1% to 70%, psychological distress ranging from 10% to 74%, impairment varying from 4.6% to 63%, as well as burnout and compassion fatigue found stretching to 80%” (p.5).
The author further stated relevant barriers that created obstacles for MHPs to access appropriate and effective mental services included: limited insight, education and prevention strategies lacking, keeping distress secretive, educational institutions being unsupportive to the distressed professionals/students, utilizing reactive interventions versus preventative ones, lacking evidence-based research on MHPs distress along with interventions that remediate stress, an unsupportive and avoidant culture when dealing with psychological distress, and limited psychotherapy resources.
Looking ahead, potential solutions may include educating and increasing awareness, improving systemic influences, utilizing self-care, developing a culture of support, increasing empirical research, and utilizing personal therapy and treatment programs, although Inconsistencies were found in the literature, which harness poor integration between prevalence, barriers, and interventions (Hyatt, 2016).
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