It may come as little surprise, but healthcare workers and first responders experience a wide range of mental health concerns like anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the nature of their work.
Since the start of the pandemic, those concerns have only increased. A recent survey by Mental Health America found that 93% of healthcare workers reported experiencing stress and 86% reported experiencing anxiety, while 76% reported exhaustion and burnout.
To help shine a spotlight on the issue and better train first responders and healthcare workers on how to prioritize their own mental health, South Texas Health System hosted a Mental Health First Aid training on Thursday, August 11, as part of its South Texas Advanced Symposium on Trauma & Critical Care.
Entitled Mental Health First Aid, the course teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges in themselves and their colleagues. Along with offering tips on building the skills and confidence required to reach out and provide initial support to colleagues who may be struggling, the class highlights ways one can use self-care tools and techniques to maintain their mental wellbeing.
“Human emotion is real, and healthcare workers and first responders see a lot of things in their day-to-day work that can impact their mental health. It’s not healthy to bottle things up,” says course instructor Dustin Ross, Director of Mental Health and National Float Flight Paramedic, Air Methods. “It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges and address them before they escalate.”
Topics included depression, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, substance use disorders, and more. During the course, participants learned about the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, how to develop a five-step action plan to help someone who is going through a mental crisis, and who to turn to for help should they face their own mental health issues.
“It’s important for healthcare workers and first responders prioritize their mental health, and we’re honored to help provide them with the tools they need to do so,” said Gloria Vela, System Director for In-service Education, South Texas Health System. “Mental health awareness and coping skills will not only have a positive impact on frontline workers in our community, but also on the patients they serve.”
South Texas Health System’s Education Department offers Mental Health First Aid training throughout the year. If you are interested in taking part in a future course, please call the continuing education coordinator at (956) 385-3473.