A Psychiatrist, a Veterinarian, and an Emergency Physician Resolve to Improve Mental Health
Dr Moffic is an editorial board member and regular contributor to Psychiatric Times. He was a tenured Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Currently, Dr Moffic is focused on three major advocacy initiatives: physician burnout, climate change, and Islamophobia. Dr Gaspar is a veterinarian at Veterinary Information Network, Chicago,IL. Dr Levin is Chair, Wellness Section, American College of Emergency Physicians, Milwaukee, WI.
Between animal and human medicine there are no dividing lines—nor should there be.
–Rudolf Virchow, MD, father of cellular pathology
On the shortest day of the year in December 2018, the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) daily featured a dark subject about the suicide rate in veterinarians, also reported in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association1 Both the field of psychiatry and veterinary medicine have in common our concern for our own suicides.2 Indeed, a few days later, on Christmas Eve, Medscape Psychiatry reported its top news article for 2018: “NYU Resident, Medical Student Die by Suicide 5 Days Apart.”3
A terrible truth of student suicides is that those who start medical school and residency are generally psychologically healthy. One can deduce, then, that educational systems themselves factor into suicides.4 Veterinarians and physicians, including psychiatrists, have the highest rates of suicide of any professions and higher than the general population. The paradox is that we are all devoted to healing, yet the ultimate vessels of our well-being—our lives—are being lost by our own hands.
Moreover, suicide is the tip of the iceberg of our personal psychological distress and disorders. Our mutual professions have higher rates than the general population for clinical depression, epidemic rates of burnout, and related problems. Those healers with the most compassion seem most at risk for burning out.5 No wonder quality-of-care suffers.
For the public, the prevalence of mental disorders has increased to over 20%, and most never receive any effective treatments. Outside of formal diagnostic disorders, a host of other public psychological problems are cause for concern.6 These include the fact that over half of adolescents already have had a significant life trauma; cosmetic surgery procedures are booming, perhaps as a response to body dysmorphia; rates of xenophobia and related prejudices (ie, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia) are rising; people are suffering mental repercussions of climate instability; technology is being overused and misused; and our society is pervasively lonely.
The American Psychiatric Association Foundation, the funding arm of the APA, called for “A Mentally Healthy Nation for All” in 2018. However, simple math suggests that we are moving toward mental dis-ease.7
Historically, beyond a general altruistic calling, many believed that those who chose to be veterinarians, psychiatrists, or other kinds of physicians, were often doing to so to address some traumatic and/or inspiring medical or psychological experience in their childhood. For veterinarians, that would likely involve beloved animals. That emotional tie to the past could leave us vulnerable to frustration in helping our patients. Such frustration results more and more from the systems we work in that have become more corporate and business-oriented, with the consequence of controlling how we practice, decreasing our empowerment, and providing obstacles for our ability to heal and fulfill our callings. ...
Read Complete article as originally published in Psychiatric Times http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/couch-crisis/psychiatrist-veterinarian-and-emergency-physician-resolve-improve-mental-health.
*Dr. Moffic is a One Health Supporter http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/news.php?query=ONE+HEALTH+INCLUDES+MENTAL+HEALTH+by+H.+Steven+Moffic%2C+MD%2C+DLFAPA+
Permission to post/publish on One Health Initiative website granted January 25, 2019 by:
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