Mental health is one of the main pending tasks, also among health professionals. Economic conditions, job instability, shifts and the pandemic have reduced the mental stability of doctorsnurses and other members of the health sector.
Sometimes mental problems weigh so heavily that suicidal thoughts or behaviors appear. The suicide rate among physicians is 1.3 percent, higher than the general population’s 0.8 percent. Gustavo Chávez is one of those doctors who has tried to commit suicide, an act that made him resign from his work in medical care. “Now I only dedicate myself to teaching,” he explains in statements to Medical Writing.
He affirms that he has no intention of returning to consultations: “I don’t feel like exercising.” The doctor states that he has feelings of “frustration and anger at having to face over and over again a union that says that if you can’t spend a whole day without sleeping, you’re not really a doctor and you have no vocation. All this reverberates to the point where I myself attempted against my life.”
“I feel frustrated facing a guild that says if you can’t go a whole day without sleep, you don’t have a calling”
The stigma and taboo kept Chávez from thinking that he had some kind of psychological problem. “You feel incapable of being able to feel bad. You question yourself a lot when you think if you can really be a good doctor. If you don’t have a good grade or you didn’t perform as you would like in an internship… you feel guilty for not being better and you don’t think that maybe you feel bad for a psychological theme“, describes.
This taboo on mental illness, which seems even more acute in the health sector, helps (according to the doctor’s testimony) to “generate doubts about whether you really have a mental problem or are you exaggerating.” He explains that it is common “to feel that you can’t lead your life rightyour relationships, family, work…”.
Covid changed the lives of doctors
The arrival of Covid-19 and the pandemic management It is one of the problems that weighs more in front-line toilets. “It changed life for everyone, it meant asking ourselves what we were doing and why,” the doctor told this newspaper, regretting that people forget that behind a doctor’s gown there is “a suffering human beingis hungry, thirsty, sleepy… and that all that can affect”. The vocation of service to others also takes its toll. “You are focused on other people or the environment that surrounds you and you forget about yourself”, Explain.
The psychological help, it would certainly have been useful at a time when “seeing and being close to death is not easy”. Above all because, according to this doctor: “There is no one to talk to. You do not want to affect your acquaintances or close family by talking about diagnoses, diseases and treatments. The only line of communication is usually your colleagues and they are in the same world as you. . There is not an outlet or a moment to know if you are really assimilating everything as you have to.”
“Seeing and being close to death is not easy and there is no one to talk about it with. There is no relief or a moment to assimilate everything”
To break the taboo and help other doctors who find themselves in the same situation he went through, Chávez believes that what is necessary is “to leave behind the old ways. Life around us has changed because of everything that has happened in recent years. We cannot and should not continue repeating patterns.” In his opinion, we must change the way Medicine is practiced: “We have been taught how we should behave towards certain patients, how we should feel about ourselves. You have to enjoy what you do and not follow a mere pattern”.
Doctors commit suicide too
The case of this doctor is not isolated, therefore psychologists warn of the importance of talking about it. “It must be said that doctors and other health professionals also commit suicide and also have serious depressive disorders,” recently explained a clinical psychologist to this newspaper. “I attend many health workers with suicidal behavior and more lately. Some have had one or several attempts that have not gone well and go to the clinic to teach them how to live,” she said.
His testimony coincides with the situation described by this doctor who came to attempt on his own life. “The work situation experienced by health workers, such as not having a permanent job or having too much responsibility, as well as any other factor that makes life difficult, weakens us and adds weight to the inconveniences of living,” he assured before saying: “Getting being a doctor is not easy. After all the effort for years, you come to something you don’t like and you lose the vocation or the taste for what you’re doing.”
Although it may contain statements, data or notes from health institutions or professionals, the information contained in Medical Writing is edited and prepared by journalists. We recommend the reader that any questions related to health be consulted with a health professional.