How Does Being a Healthcare Worker Affect Your Mental Health?

mental health of healthcare worker

Our personal environment and surroundings have a significant impact on our overall wellbeing, so it’s not surprising that your career can affect your mental health. From stress at work to executive burnout, there are numerous ways your work can impact your emotional health. 

Although anyone can experience a mental health crisis due to their working environment, some job roles are more stressful than others. Due to this, it’s important to identify particularly stressful jobs and find ways in which personnel can be protected and supported. 

While a career in healthcare can be extraordinarily fulfilling and rewarding, it can also be stressful. To understand how you can take care of yourself when working in a healthcare setting, take a look at these ways in which being a healthcare worker can affect your mental health:

1. Overwork

When you fail to give people the resources that they need to complete a task, the outcome may be less than satisfactory. For healthcare workers who are unable to deliver the level of care they would like, this obviously takes a toll. As we’ve seen this year in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers can experience serious emotional stress and even trauma when they are overworked or lacking resources.

2. Lack of Training

Healthcare personnel are responsible for the care and treatment of their patients, so it’s vital they have the requisite training in order to fulfil their duties. Furthermore, it’s essential that every worker feels confident in their ability to deliver an appropriate range of care. If personnel don’t have access to appropriate training, it’s likely to damage their self-esteem and self-confidence. As a result, healthcare workers may feel underqualified and ill-equipped to cope if they are denied access to relevant training. 

3. Stigma

Although progress has been made in relation to the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, it’s certainly still present. In industries which are known to be fast-paced, professionals often feel unable to admit when they’re struggling or to ask for help. Sadly, this can lead to an exacerbation of their symptoms and may even cause people to leave the profession all together. While many organizations aim to provide healthcare workers with access to confidential support, individuals need to be encouraged to talk about issues they’re struggling with and to access help when it’s required. 

How Can Healthcare Professionals Protect Their Mental Health?

If you work in the healthcare sector or you’re thinking of becoming a medical professional, you’ll want to do everything you can to protect your mental health. By prioritizing your emotional wellbeing, you can ensure that you’re able to perform effectively in the workplace and reach your potential. Additionally, taking good care of your mental wellbeing will enhance your happiness in other areas of your life too. To put good practices into place now, take a look at these simple ways in which healthcare professionals can protect their mental health:

1. Choose the Right Role

Healthcare is a vast industry, with numerous specialties and sub-sectors. With so many different roles to choose from, it’s highly likely that there’s a job within the industry to suit everyone. However, it is important to choose a role that matches your personality and character. If you enjoy working under pressure and holding a lot of responsibility, being a surgeon, doctor or nurse practitioner might be a good option for you, for example. Conversely, if you want to be part of the healthcare community without delivering direct patient care, you may opt for a role in research, planning or management. 

2. Access Training Opportunities

Insufficient training can be a major stressor for healthcare workers, but you can combat this by actively seeking out qualification opportunities. Even if your employer doesn’t provide optional training programs, you can enroll on advanced qualification programs directly. From Advanced Medical Imaging to accredited online DNP nurse executive programs and courses, there are a variety of qualifications to suit all types of healthcare workers. 

Now that a significant number of top schools are offering online courses, it’s easier than ever for healthcare professionals to undertake further qualifications. With no need to take time off from your current role, you can create your own schedule and study at your own pace when you enroll on an online program. 

3. Talk to Someone

Talking about your experiences as a healthcare worker can have a considerable impact on your emotional wellbeing. What’s more – encouraging your colleagues to do the same can help to improve the collective mental health of the workforce. If your employer offers confidential counselling or similar programs, be sure to make the most of them. If not, why not lobby for them to implement something similar? 

Of course, you don’t have to use facilities provided by your employer if you want to talk to someone about the stresses of your role. Talking to an independent therapist can also be a great way to take care of your mental health. 

4. Make Time for Yourself

Healthcare professionals often work long hours with few breaks, which means there’s little time to relax and unwind at the end of the day. If you’re also caring for a family, chances are you have even less opportunity to focus on yourself. However, self-care is an essential element of good mental health, so it’s important to find ways to factor it into your schedule. 

If you find exercise helps to clear your mind, going for a run or hitting the gym a couple of times a week should be a priority. Alternatively, if meditation helps you to relax, try to incorporate this into your nightly routine. By finding effective self-care options that work with your schedule, you can ensure you prioritize your mental health every day. 

Enjoy Working in Healthcare

When you have the right support systems in place, working in the healthcare industry can be one of the most rewarding career options out there. Fortunately, employers are becoming more aware of the need to support their staff in different ways, so there are increasing opportunities to protect your emotional wellbeing. By being proactive and mindful of your own mental health, you can ensure that your experience of working in the healthcare sector is positive, fulfilling and life-affirming.