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