Strategies that Promote the Emotional Well-being of Gatekeepers
- Pp. 112-131 (20)Kathleen Stephany
Chapter five begins by pointing out that suicide can be an occupational hazard in the caring professions. For example, physicians are twice as likely to commit suicide when compared to members of the general population. Contributing factors to physician suicide include but are not limited to: heavy work-loads, bullying, unreasonable expectations, stigma and perfectionism. Stigma associated with a diagnosis of mental illness, the dread of being judged, or fear of losing one’s license to practice, all play a role in doctors refusing to get the help that they need. Studies have also demonstrated that there is high prevalence of suicide among nurses, higher than that of the general public. Ready access to means, mental illness, substance abuse, work related stress and even work place bullying were cited as some of the contributing factors to nurse suicide. Stigma toward mental illness was identified as a key factor in nurses not seeking professional help. It was pointed out that due to the fact that caring for the suicidal person can be stressful there is a real risk of gatekeepers developing compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue was defined followed by an overview of some of the causal factors and symptoms associated with it. If compassion fatigue is to be prevented or effectively treated when it does occur, additional coping strategies need to be adopted and utilized. Therefore, the following approaches were recommended: encouraging gatekeepers to reach out for professional help; fostering self-compassion; and implementing strategies that promote self-care. In conclusion, some take away points from the book were highlighted.