Experts highlight need to prioritise mental health in healthcare professionals

On the occasion of National Doctor`s Day 2023, a recent survey conducted by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has shed light on the alarming levels of stress experienced by doctors in India. The survey revealed that over 80 per cent of doctors in the country are overwhelmed and stressed in their profession. This highlights the pressing need to prioritize the mental health of healthcare professionals who have dedicated their lives to caring for others.
The medical profession has long been plagued by professional stress, burnout, and exhaustion. While mental health in the medical field has gained significant attention in countries like the United States, it has yet to receive adequate recognition in India. To address this concern, several doctors have come forward to express their opinions to bring to notice the state of mental health among doctors in the country.
Dr Urvi Maheshwari, consulting physician, Zynova Shalby Hospital, highlights the demanding and stressful nature of a doctor`s life. Juggling between hospitals, emergency calls, and family responsibilities, doctors often sacrifice their own well-being. The lack of proper rest, sleep, and nutrition coupled with the stress of treating critically ill patients can lead to declining health and hormonal imbalances. Therefore, it is crucial for doctors to prioritize their mental health alongside their physical well-being.
Dr Kaushal Chhatrapati, senior interventional cardiologist, Saifee Hospital and Breach Candy Hospital, shares personal tips that help him maintain his physical and mental health. These include ensuring adequate sleep, regular exercise, a balanced diet, meditation, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities like puzzles and reading. Chhatrapati emphasizes that doctors need to take care of themselves first to effectively care for their patients, drawing a parallel with the airline safety briefing of putting on one`s oxygen mask before assisting others.
Dr Anup Mahajani, consultant interventional cardiologist, Medicover Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, says, pursuing your interest, is the finest stress reliever. I play the guitar as an instrument to relax and discover new things about music. Whenever I have free time, I make it a point to spend it with my family, whether at home, travelling, or simply visiting neighbouring public parks. In the evenings, I like to swim or play badminton. All of these things are not possible every day, but I strive to engage in all of them with choice and a lot of joy, which helps me stay healthy.  
Dr Pradeep Mahajan, regenerative medicine expert and stem cell researcher stresses the importance of addressing mental health in the medical profession. He acknowledges the multiple challenges that doctors face, including long working hours, high patient expectations, emotional exhaustion, and the burden of making critical decisions. Neglecting mental well-being can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, ultimately affecting both doctors and patient care.
Dr Lakin Vira, clorectal surgeon, Apollo Spectra Mumbai shares that in this competitive & target-oriented world, everything has changed as per the role, work methods & hours of work of each and every doctor. Mental health is very important for overall well-being & smooth functioning of the very stressful life of a doctor. Doctors, including me, usually ensure good and quality free time for de-stress, especially on weekends. Nothing beats time with family and getting back to one`s hobbies like cricket or just binge-watching your favourite shows on Netflix. 
By discussing the mental health of doctors on National Doctor`s Day 2023, the immense pressure faced by healthcare professionals is acknowledged, and avenues for support and intervention are opened. Creating a culture of self-care, reducing the stigma around seeking help, and providing resources such as counselling services and peer support programs can significantly contribute to the well-being of doctors. Healthcare organizations and institutions also play a crucial role in promoting mental health by implementing supportive policies and employee assistance programs.
It is crucial to recognize that individual strategies for managing mental health may differ, and doctors should explore practices that work best for their specific needs. By prioritizing mental health, doctors can continue to provide the highest quality of care to their patients while safeguarding their own well-being.

Also Read: National Doctor`s Day 2023: Doctors reveal mantra behind maintaining their health