May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is our immense honor to serve as guest bloggers for On the Mark. As Chief of Psychiatry and Chief of Psychology at Texas Children’s, we would like to take a few moments to talk to all of you about the importance of taking care of our mental health and well-being.
Working in healthcare, especially in pediatrics and women’s health, is an incredibly rewarding career. However, no matter how fulfilling some moments can be, we would be remiss not to acknowledge how demanding, stressful and exhausting working in healthcare can truly be.
From the very best days to the most trying times, one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and everyone around us, including our patients and their families as well as our colleagues, is to prioritize our mental health.
Over the last few years, our society experienced events and losses that undeniably changed the world. At Texas Children’s alone, we have seen an exponential increase in behavioral health requests since 2019 with behavioral health also becoming the number one sought-after service among incoming patient referrals. Additionally, instances of children coming to our Emergency Centers with critical behavioral health needs rose nearly 800% from 2019 through 2022.
These numbers can be daunting but they are also incredibly eye-opening to the fact that there is work to be done for every generation. And while in many ways, we have reached the “light at the end of the tunnel” as we often called it, one theme that remains clear after the pandemic is the vital need for mental and behavioral health care.
One of the best ways that we, as a healthcare team, can break the stigma around mental health is to talk about and prioritize mental wellbeing in our own lives, just as we prioritize our physical health and wellbeing. It is important to remember that by taking care of ourselves we can take care of others. Be compassionate with yourselves and feel no hesitation in seeking out mental health services. We are here to support you any way we can.
As healthcare employees, when it comes to caring for our own mental health, you should always remember that there are countless forms of therapy for you to discover should one not work or be comfortable for you. We see many forms taking place every day at Texas Children’s, not only through our Behavioral Health Programs, but also through Mind-Body Practices, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Animal-Assisted Therapy, Physical and Occupational Therapy, and more.
If we can use various forms of therapy to rehabilitate our patients and help them overcome obstacles, we should be practicing this ourselves.
Your well-being is extremely important and our hope for all of you is to find healthy ways to continuously improve and care for yourselves. Mental and behavioral health, just like physical health, is an ongoing process that we must continuously work on.
As we close, we want to leave you with this — if you ever find yourself in a dark moment that you feel you cannot overcome alone, please reach out to someone. Texas Children’s has numerous resources available to employees and we’ve provided several of them below, should you ever need them.
Please remember that no matter what you may be going through at any moment in time, you are enough, you are invaluable and you are never alone.
• Employee Assistance Program
• Virtual Mental Health Care
• Spiritual Well Being
• Suicide Prevention
Kirti Saxena, MD Karin Price, PhD
Texas Children’s Chief of Psychiatry Texas Children’s Chief of Psychology
9 Responses to “Mental Health Awareness Month”
While I think resource provided are super helpful, I often wonder if there are others available. While working at a previous employer, we were allowed to take “Mental Health days”. These were special days set aside for employees to regroup and assess their mental health without being charged PTO for it. Granted it was only 1 day per month but sometimes that may be all that is needed to get yourself back on track and to have some down time without it eating away at time one would otherwise use to enjoy their family or other personal business. Perhaps TCH could consider such a resource coupled with our current “My Day”? It does not have to be as extreme as one day per month but whatever is feasible for everyone.
Love this idea
I second it! Great idea!!!
A specific number of “mental health days” is a GREAT ideal! It would send a clear message that Texas Children’s Hospital values self-care for all employees.
This is a great piece by Dr. Saxena and Dr. Price! It is important to normalize these conversations around mental health at all levels of the organization as everyone has or knows someone who is currently/has struggled with their mental health. I am grateful to work for an organization that sheds light on this topic and continues to invest in a multitude of different resources for both its employees and the patients we serve!
Working with mental health patients can be rewarding and stressful, its important to show empathy and understanding on the patient background the environment the came from. And to support one another as staff you’re not alone.
I am happy that TCH is acknowledging mental health for its employees. Although, I think more attention needs to go to the TCP’s as well. I am a social worker at one of the community cares practices and we don’t get as much attention or resources as the staff at TCH when it comes to mental health. I personally encounter daily stressful situations seeing an increasing number of patients with mental health issues such as suicide, depression, anxiety, etc. and have to return to work the next day like nothing happened. After COVID, which put a lot of stress on all staff, I can see signs of burnout. I personally feel that self care should be made mandatory for all of us. Some type of mechanism should be put in place. Not sure how or what though.
It’s wonderful to see the work that Drs. Price and Saxena have spearheaded to support patients, their families, staff, and our team members’ loved ones. As an organization, we fight the stigma, provide support, treat patients, educate the public, and advocate for policies supporting pediatrics and women affected by mental illness. I love their statement that addresses you are enough; showing up, just as you are, for yourself and the people around you is more than enough.
A Mental health day would be great. I know a couple other workplaces that do it. Its always helpful to have a day in order to get your health together.