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Healthcare Professionals Focus of Virtual Event on World Suicide Prevention Day

August 20, 2021

They showed up, saved countless lives, comforted families and now many healthcare professionals are left to struggle with a host of emotions from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey by The Physicians Foundation, in fact, noted that two-thirds of more than 2,500 physicians reported experiencing job-related burnout, a 20 percent increase since 2018, according to Dr. John Santopietro, Physician-in-Chief of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network. The survey was conducted between May and June of this year. “This is an extremely serious situation," Dr. Santopietro said. "We see depression and perhaps even suicide on the rise in the general population while watching colleagues leave the field they once loved so much because the pandemic was just too taxing on them physically, emotionally and even financially.” The survey noted that more than half of the respondents felt inappropriately angry, anxious or tearful when they think about the pandemic. Almost a third reported feeling hopeless, and nearly half have self-isolated from colleagues, family and friends. “As with many facing mental health struggles, physicians needing help are not always seeking it,” Dr. Santopietro said, referring to the survey statistic showing that only one in 7 physicians reported seeking medical help. One in five surveyed, he added, admitted knowing someone who has considered, attempted or died by suicide since the beginning of the pandemic. Dr. Sharon Kiely, Chief Wellness Officer for the system, said World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10 is a stark reminder of the need to pay attention. On that day, the Institute of Living will host its annual awareness event, this year as a virtual presentation from 8:30 a.m. to noon. J. Corey Feist, JD, MBA, CEO of the University of Virginia Physicians Group and co-founder of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, will present “From Awareness to Action: The Mission of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes' Foundation to Safeguard the Well-Being of our Healthcare Professionals.” The event, which is open to the public, will address the issues contributing to the increased risk of suicide and burnout of healthcare workers, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and discuss various actions that support the well-being of healthcare professionals. A live Q&A session with a panel of experts will follow the presentation. “Many providers have gone into the field of medicine because they want to help people, then an overwhelming need such as that of a global pandemic proves overwhelming. We hope this event will help those who need it reconnect with the joy of practicing medicine,” Dr. Santopietro said. World Suicide Prevention DayTo register for the virtual event, click here.