The psychological and emotional well-being of healthcare professionals cannot and must not be overlooked with the idea that “there are more important things to take care of”
Published in Huffington Post Italy 03/16/20
by Claudia Ravaldi
Almost thirty years ago I chose to be a doctor, I have been a psychiatrist and psychotherapist for more than twenty years.
In recent years I have always been very clear that being a doctor and at the same time remaining a person forces us to continually wear a “double dress”: a personal and a professional one.
And on top of these two garments, from time to time others: a cultural one, a cognitive one and even an emotional one.
All double. Or triple. Or quadruple.
Because while you study medicine you specialize and then work as a doctor, in the little free time you have you cultivate your interests, which do not necessarily have to do with diseases and treatments.
Because while you are a doctor and practice your profession and compare yourself with colleagues and also with patients / users, you are still a person and you carry it, this person you are, within the profession you do, in the relationships you have with colleagues and with users. The two dresses are superimposed and sewn together.
There is also a double cognitive role: it is undeniable that seeing things with the doctor’s glasses does not correspond to seeing them with the patient’s glasses. Those of us doctors who have to change glasses, or put one glasses on top of the other, know how complex and tiring it is to keep all these points of view together, especially in the face of serious illness or bereavement.
There is also the emotional double layer, which is what worries me the most and pains me the most in emergency days like these .
Doctors are not taught to wear all the clothes they are forced to wear together comfortably enough.
Doctors are not taught the pitfalls of these necessary overlaps: we often find ourselves enveloped, stuck, hot, uncomfortable, one garment on top of the other, sometimes too tight, sometimes too rigid, sometimes worn or torn, without even we realized where and when that tear happened, where and when that button fell, or why that sleeve is unstitched and you can see the skin underneath.
Doctors are asked to move nimbly even as the collar tightens and the shoulders fall all over the place and the hem stumbles every step.
Doctors are asked not to feel the weight of the emotional garment of the people they are, not to feel that second skin that in days like these sticks to you and would like to make you scream and say enough and say but how did we get here.
And say “I’m afraid”. Feeling I can say it.
In this horrifying time, a source of mental salvation can come from keeping all of our garments in mind. Take care of us as doctors and of us as men and women.
Take care of our emotions, that the emotions of the doctor and the man, even if they have always said no to us, even if they have hidden them under the coat, are the same.
Fear. Anger. Ache. Disgust. Disbelief / surprise. Joy
Dear colleagues, I read and hear you. I listen to myself and I read myself. If we take into account this overwhelming experience, we will be able to take better care of ourselves, of the young students and therefore of our patients, without losing pieces, buttons, and having worn edges.
In this time of global emergency, thinking about yourself might sound strange. A kind of unforgivable selfishness, out of any time limit.
Instead, there are numerous and shared by the entire scientific community the studies that clearly indicate that good medical care depends largely on two variables: what he knows and how he is.
The technical aspects alone are not enough, especially in an emergency. Aspects related to psychological and emotional health are central to care and care , especially in these uncertain times.
The psychological and emotional well-being of healthcare professionals cannot and should not be overlooked with the idea that “there are more important things to take care of”, because the stakes are very high, and it concerns the loss of the operator’s health and with it, the loss of its effectiveness.
We can’t afford it.
For this reason, in these days, the EMDR Italia association is implementing numerous initiatives to protect the operators involved on the front line in the COVID-19 emergency.
Another important initiative is that of the Salvagente Association , which is committed to offering free psychological support to Italian doctors.
If you are an operator and you feel the need to take care of yourself, but you fear that this wastes your little time, remember that this is an important investment: it serves to keep your health at its best, but also to ensure the best care for yours. patients and their families and a.
Medic, cure you ipsum.