Reducing burnout among mental health workers: How community behavioral health clinics support physician teams

Today, behavioral health service providers are struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for their services. Driven by the disruption and evolving impact of the pandemic – which continues to drive mental health clinicians to do so Increase the number of their cases Above already packed schedules – these conditions lead to an extreme recipe for burnout.

It is defined as “a prolonged stress reaction characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of personal achievement” by Agency for healthcare research and qualityFatigue is an endemic problem. self reported Burnout rates among psychiatrists reach 78%. while approx 50% of psychotherapists Reporting job burnout. This is not surprising given that doctors have little time for self-care, and additional clients mean an endless list of administrative tasks, making it almost impossible to keep up.

Covid: fuel for fire

Covid-19 pandemic disrupted Almost every aspect of societyWhich leads to 25% global increase in anxiety and depressionIn addition to addiction and substance abuse, the demand for mental health services increases. This surge in clients, combined with therapists pivoting to telehealth and the delivery of virtual care, has forced clinicians into increasingly interactive situations as they grapple with change and uncertainty at every turn. For those who continue to do personal work, exposure to perseverance risks as a layer of stress. For those able to work remotely, the initial refuge in the safety of their homes has gradually turned into isolation and fewer opportunities to interact with peers and support colleagues.

As the mental health toll continues in the long-tailed Covid arena in what is referred to as “Shadow PandemicOne of the lesser known aspects of fatigue experienced by clinicians is the increase in compassion fatigue, Reduce their ability to empathize with clients and provide the best treatment. in At least in some casesCompassion fatigue caused therapists to leave the field, which contributed to a growing shortage of physicians. With physicians leaving the profession or retiring in greater numbers, it is critical to mitigate rates of burnout, relieve empathy stress, and provide a clear path forward to support basic mental health care.

Leading organizational change to support clinicians

Trends affecting mental health treatment are having a significant impact on community behavioral health clinics, as therapists struggle with an ever-increasing caseload. The leadership at these clinics is fully aware of the challenges their doctors face, and many of them have started their careers as therapists themselves. They have worked to reduce burnout and fatigue among physician teams through management and organizational initiatives, and by providing resources to promote mental health. The goal is to use any means available to reduce pressure on clinicians, and to provide appropriate support to enhance their performance.

In our work with mental health clinics, we have observed that forward-looking organizations are addressing new challenges that their clinicians face by rethinking everything from management techniques, to clinical workflows, to the use of new technology. In short, realizing that things do not have to be done the way they have always been done, and making judicious changes to procedures and policies, goes a long way toward helping alleviate the onset of fatigue and empathy fatigue.

Here are some principles we’ve seen effective organizations adopt to reduce burnout that can serve as a guide to the larger mental health clinic community.

  • Keep the lines of communication open.

Leaders who are committed to providing support to their clinical teams and encouraging two-way communication so therapists can openly share their challenges find greater success in reducing burnout. Therapists, especially those providing care via telehealth, can be increasingly isolated and need additional support. By providing forums for input, whether through check-in calls, questionnaires, or other means, clinic management can better assess the overall stress their teams face, and encourage individuals to access support, whether it be through EAPs or other formal and informal systems official, created for this purpose.

  • Increase work flexibility.

Although physicians’ schedules are incredibly tight, leaders encourage as much flexibility as possible. Therapists are encouraged to spend their mental health days, working flexible hours as needed. Some clinics implement staff health break-ins into their schedules so that they can take advantage of it to re-center sessions. Research has shown that Giving Flexibility to Teams It can increase job satisfaction and reduce burnout and stress. Allowing therapists to de-stress, enjoy time with their family, and engage in self-care can go a long way toward relieving fatigue.

  • Technology enables clinical workflows

The pandemic has given service providers an unprecedented opportunity to rethink how they deliver services, and to increase the use of technology such as telehealth. At the same time, clinical leaders critically monitor physicians’ workflows to determine what has been successful, what needs to be revised, and where new technology can make a difference.

Documentation is one area that is ripe for improvement and judicious use of technology. Documentation burdens on clinicians drain clinicians’ limited capacity and have proven to be a major factor Contribute to fatigue. On average, doctors spend about a A third of their time documenting customer data To meet electronic health record (EHR) requirements and insurance coding requirements. These processes have the ability to divert time and focus from Providing actual customer care In ways that further exacerbate the lack of time and energy, compounding the doctor’s fatigue.

Any technical tools that allow for a reduction in documentation time will have a significant impact on a clinician’s ability to remain in touch with their original purpose. In the past, there weren’t many options for documenting and creating session notes other than manual documentation. However, today there are a number of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence tools, that allow a level of automation in documentation that has not existed before. Clinics that embrace technology to help reduce the time doctors spend on paperwork create a bulwark against burnout.

Doctor’s Well-Be Advocacy

Mental health clinics have not been immune to the larger social forces affecting the workplace, including the “Great Resignation,” which leads to an increased focus on employee well-being. This extends to a focus on burnout, which requires new ways to support the emotional, cognitive, and physical outcomes of caregiving. Empowering clinicians with the tools and support they need allows them to focus on clients’ well-being without sacrificing their health and ability to do their job. Clinics that embrace these principles are in a better position to retain and employ physicians so that they can meet the growing needs of their communities.

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