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Doctors are facing a mental health crisis

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Doctors and nurses take care of our physical and mental needs. But what happens when they're the ones that need help?

May is National Nurses Month, a time to honor and celebrate the care nurses provide. But many are struggling.

"We give so much to others that we often forget about taking care of ourselves," said Cameron Stephenson who has been a nurse practitioner for 13 years.

He says he is dedicated to care for his patients, but it's not easy.

"We are so much focused on the care of others that it often goes with us wherever we go, from work to school to home to activities with our kids,” Stephenson said. “A lot of times our patients are still on our minds after we leave the office, and that leads to a lot of burnout and a lot of exhaustion."

Recent studies show that 2 in 3 physicians are struggling with burnout.

"The situation is definitely getting worse,” said Dr Gail Gazelle, a certified physician coach. “Doctors are under tremendous pressure. They're under tremendous pressure because the stakes are high being a physician, and that's always been the case. But what's new now and what patients I think can be more sympathetic about is just the intense pressures that doctors are facing to do more with less," she said.

Long-term effects lead to less-experienced doctors, short-staffed hospitals, and mistakes and oversight in patient care.

"This is a concern for the future of all of us. We already have physician shortages of many specialties and many areas in the United States, and it's really projected that those shortages are going to be vastly increased," Gazelle said.

Now more than ever physicians are encouraged to take care of their own mental health. To do that, they're going to need support from the very healthcare system they work for.

"Fewer and fewer physicians are in independent practice, and the vast majority are now employees. We're not trained to be an employee. We're trained to actually be the one in charge," Dr. Gazelle said.

"I think the more control that they have, being able to dictate that this is the time I'm going to be available to the organization. And when that time is over, I'm at home and I'm doing my other things," Stephenson said.  

Article Topic Follows: Mental Health Monday

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Kailey Galaviz

Kailey is a morning anchor and reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3


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