Interview with ourselves: the mental health of health professionals

Vytenis Andriukaitis 2017

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Member of the EC in charge of Health and Food Safety, participates in the Ministerial Conference on the follow up to the fipronil incident. Date: 26/09/2017 Reference: P-035227/00-23 Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. © European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Dario Pignatelli.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Hamaiyal Sana, member of IFMSA. Ms Sana is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

If I can single out one profession among most of the other professions that demand the most out of a person, I believe that the profession in health would be take the prize. How you ask? Well we don’t need to delve any deep … you are asked to prioritize all the time, and the top priority would always be of your patients .. let’s see; it’s a family event that is very important to you, or a long lost friend has come back at last and you are gonna meet him over drinks or much better in a diner or you simply don’t feel like doing anything for the day and entice the idea of calling in sick; these luxuries can be available for almost everyone unless you are a health professional and entertaining these ideas would have much bigger bigger consequences than it would for others., so it’s very easy to see why do people in this profession go through a lot of mental issues because they are devoid of the luxuries that normal people take for granted.

Why do we need to address this issue? Health professionals or even the students working for this profession go through experiences that surpass their ages. And every issue added with the insane working hours builds that emotional crescendo that may cause problem for a lifetime.So let’s go through those issues and find out why we are needed to address this topic

To begin with;the amount of responsibilities that come with this profession are overwhelming.. you are not your own person anymore; everything that  you do is a favour or a benefit for someone else. And every time you don’t do your best you let someone down. You never realized the worth of your words until that point in your life where one kind word of encouragement of yours can mean a world to someone losing hope and your one touch that you never gave much thought to can change a person’s entire life. Your time however spent is adding on to others people’s lives for better or for worse. And your one mistake might cost more dearly than countless  others might make.

I once learnt somewhere that there are only few ways men can tackle so much responsibility. They either own it up and become their best possible selves, or they cave under the pressure and lose their sensitivity so much so, that they lose the perspective they had to begin with; and end up the ghosts of beings they could have become. But it’s not that person’s fault but it’s their minds that are to be blamed… those objects that we entrusted our entire lives with, but forget to consider one important thing in the process of doing so, that they are a part of ourselves and Yes! they can also reach their limits and can let us down at times. There is always a trigger for our minds to break down. It could be the overwhelming responsibilities, meeting expectations of people important to you,long  working hours,blood and gore or The drastic  changes in life in ones life.

Aside from the responsibilities comes the issue of expectations … ones you, your patients, and your parents might have from you. And my personal favourite ‘the What ifs!’ are very hard to come to terms with. But the biggest one that can build you up or leave you broken are the expectations you have from yourself. The dreams and visions you had, and the future you had planned for yourself .. your belief in your abilities is what keeps you going and it’s gets very hard  when you let yourself down.

But it all comes down to the fact that a health professional no matter how good he is at his job is a human at the end of the day and like everything it can break and can make mistakes small or big. I want myself to come to terms with my own shortcomings and limits. And know when it’s enough, and stop tormenting myself with the What ifs! I go through at the end of each day. I know the responsibilities are a lot and so are expectations but there is another phrase also, and it’s called ‘Being Smart’. Be smart with your priorities, you words, your touch,your options, your choices and your limits. Be smart enough to know when you have reached your limits and when to stop.

One thing i have learnt since i have come to this profession is learning ‘the art of Slowing down’. Slow down and take a deep breath (or two) and trudge on. And most importantly be kind with your colleagues, and more accommodating to each others shortcomings. And find new,better and smarter ways to make life of Health professionals easier. To know the worth of my voice and use it when needed. And remember that no matter how tough life may get get in this profession, I would still be tougher!

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