On the occasion of National Doctor's Day, which is observed on March 30th each year, a Psychiatrist provides some suggestions on how family and friends can help doctors preserve their mental health.
On March 30th of each year, we honor and thank doctors for their invaluable contribution to our community. This year, we are amid a global pandemic (COVID-19), and no one is immune to the consequences. Doctors have been the frontline of security in this battleground among the numerous covid warriors. We've all heard their battle cry, "We stay at work for you, you stay at home for us," in recent weeks and months all over the world.
The country has also stood up to display its support and appreciation for its efforts by clapping on balconies, lighting candles, and showering flowers from helicopters, among other items.
How do family and friends assist doctors in maintaining their mental health?
- Encourage communication: Family members should make an effort to communicate efficiently with one another. Doctors should also learn to strike a work-life balance despite all of their professional obligations, and engage in connecting with their families, even if it is just over the internet when they are isolated. Avoid sharing COVID news or hospital-related matters with family and friends, and instead, involve them in other discussions. Building an in-person or online community activity, such as playing virtual games with your children, reading a book, revisiting old albums and rekindling memories, etc., will help you develop emotional support and resilience.
- Encourage people to take care of their basic needs: It is common for all humans, doctors included, to forget their basic needs when they are overwhelmed. As a consequence, it's vital to put a daily focus on basic needs including having enough sleep, staying hydrated, and eating regularly (preferably at home). It's also a good idea to arrange your physical activity with your family members, such as yoga, meditation, or a morning walk, to promote a sense of belonging and encouragement.
- As an example, if the family of a doctor begins to follow all of the safety guidelines, such as handwashing daily, maintaining social distance, avoiding excessive travel outside, wearing masks while outside the house, and so on, everyone will feel more confident and optimistic. It's important to concentrate on "what we can do rather than what we can't." As a result, setting an example for the doctors' families will ensure their safety and give them the feeling that you are all in this together and ready to support each other.
- Build support groups: Organizations should continue to invest in assessing physician stress and determining the factors that influence it. Encourage physicians and other medical professionals to communicate their problems, and keep an eye out for any behavioral shifts in your coworkers so you can assist. Encourage service providers to meet in groups regularly to discuss their problems and coping strategies. The spouse/peers may leave small messages/reminders appreciating their job, encouraging talking to someone/seeking clinical support, and the experience of anxiety or depression as a natural manifestation.