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Are Today’s Healthcare Leaders Prepared to Address the Mental Health Crisis?

November 5, 2021
November 5, 2021

“On top of COVID-19, we have a mental health epidemic. Burnout is happening everywhere, but it is especially happening with healthcare workers,” says Marjorie Morrison, CEO and co-founder of Psych Hub. “People are feeling completely drained and exhausted—it’s a really challenging time. And not only are people feeling burned out, they’re starting to get angry.”

Morrison emphasizes that as the numbers continue to climb, both of COVID-19 cases and those experiencing mental health needs, we must ensure healthcare workers are taken care of—including the prioritization of their mental health.

Bringing Awareness to the Mental Health Crisis 

Those experiencing burnout continue to increase—currently, approximately 75 percent of employees are experiencing burnout at work. Some 83 percent of employees say they feel emotionally drained and exhausted, with workplace stress affecting their mental health. Unfortunately, approximately 30 percent of those experiencing burnout fear that discussing their mental health could lead to being fired or furloughed.

Morrison adds that ER visits for mental health and behavioral health issues are rising significantly, including patients experiencing panic attacks and overdoses. Primary care and specialty care providers, who already tend to address some mental health needs, are also seeing a rise in these cases. Morrison notes that the following statistics demonstrate the uptick:

  • 4.9 million visits to ER with mental and behavioral disorders as primary diagnosis
  • 56.8 million visits to physicians’ offices with mental and behavioral disorders as primary diagnosis.
  • 70% primary care visits are driven by patients’ mental health issues, including anxiety, panic, depression, and stress

Regarding the increasing numbers seen across all healthcare departments and specialties, Morrison says, “It’s pretty profound when you think about how separate mental health used to be and how integrated it now needs to be.” 

The Rising Costs of Mental Health on Healthcare

“Our healthcare workers are stressed, burned out, and exhausted. They don’t feel like they have enough support, and yet they’re the ones that everyone is leaning on. This has a huge cost to employers,” says Morrison. This mental health crisis is impacting engagement, productivity, and healthcare costs. Morrison reports there has been a 33 percent increase in healthcare costs; it costs facilities approximately 15,000 dollars per employee experiencing mental health issues; and some $53 billion is lost annually due to absenteeism. 

“For every dollar of prevention, it saves us four dollars in the cost of care,” explains Morrison. “This is so profound. We are a very reactive system. We treat something once it’s a problem but don’t do much in prevention. If we just focused on prevention, we could save so much time, money, and individual anguish.”

Equipping Healthcare Leaders with the Knowledge and Skills Needed to Address the Mental Health Crisis

A top priority in addressing the mental health crisis is increasing the number of individuals who can support those who are struggling—by providing individuals with the skills and knowledge to be able to communicate more effectively, to talk to those needing support using “people first” language. Psych Hub offers educational multimedia for people of all learning styles and different levels of education for patients, peers, clinicians, and hospitals. The library of mental health literacy videos, podcasts, articles, and blogs are accessible and shareable for anyone—patients, peers, friends, and family members. 

Psych Hub’s Mental Health Ally Certification (MHAC) courses offer the resources for equipping and upskilling healthcare clinicians, along with continuing education units and a community forum. With Psych Hub’s MHAC Library, you can equip staff members at any level in your organization to learn about critical mental health topics and gain actionable skills to help someone, or themselves, during difficult times. MHAC offers eight courses focused on critical mental health topics, including: mental health 101, common mental health conditions, substance use awareness, suicidal behavior competency, safety planning (suicide prevention and intimate partner violence), diversity and mental health, understanding and overcoming bias, and motivational interviewing (communication basics).

Resources are available for individuals, clinicians, and healthcare facilities. The question is, is your organization ready to support its healthcare workers in addressing the needs arising from this mental health crisis?

This blog post is based on the HealthStream webinar, Are Today’s Healthcare Leaders Prepared to Address the Mental Health Crisis?   In this webinar, Marjorie Morrison, CEO and co-founder of Psych Hub, discusses the importance of equipping healthcare leaders with emotional intelligence and awareness to address the mental health crisis. Psych Hub is the world’s most comprehensive multimedia platform for mental health education. Access the webinar recording to learn how Psych Hub’s Mental Health Ally Certification   can equip your staff members, at any level in your organization, with the tools to navigate the ongoing mental health crisis and burnout within your staff. 

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