Balancing work, family, and personal life can be very challenging for employees. There are many situations that can impact productivity within an organization from the changing work environment to external personal stressors. These situations can impact the well-being of individuals. Wellness touches all sections of our lives, including occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as “an active process through which people become better aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” At any time, we can be out of sync in one, or more, of these areas. How can you recognize when another person may be in trouble, especially if he or she does not come out and directly ask for help? Some of the signs you can look for include:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
- Loss of interest in daily activities.
- Appetite or weight changes.
- Sleep changes.
- Anger or irritability.
- Loss of energy.
- Reckless behavior.
- Concentration problems.
- Unexplained aches and pains.
If you identify signs that a person may be struggling, how can you help? The first step is to know what resources your institution may offer and help direct the person to the correct resources. You can also let the person know that you are there and want to help. To start a conversation with someone who may need help, you can:
- Express commitment and concern.
- Say what you have noticed (be specific).
- Ask how things are going.
- Set a timeframe to check back in.
- Remember, you are not there to treat or diagnosis, but to listen, emphasize, and encourage professional support if needed.
Mayo Clinic, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention have teamed together on an initiative to help prevent physician and medical trainee suicides. They have created several tools and resources that can be used to assist trainees, and others, who may be in need of help. One of these tools, the “Make the Difference” video, was designed to help medical students, residents, and fellows on ways that they can support each other and share concerns for their peers. The goal is the help each person see the importance of self-care, recognize when help is needed, and to lessen the stigma that many people face when asking for help.
Wellness is a personal journey. Feelings of well-being are important so that each person can maximize his or her overall level of health and be able to live a balanced life. It is up to each of us to create our own plan for wellness and to reach out and help those who need assistance along the way. As an organization, it is important to create awareness about the importance of wellness, identify signs that indicate someone may be in trouble, provide resources to find support, and create a culture that makes seeking help acceptable.
The resources below can help you initiate the conversation within your organization:
- Employee Assistance Program: Inquire about your organizations Employee Assistance Program.
- Wellness Program Ideas: Resilient Living, Dr. Amit Sood, http://stressfree.org/.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/our-work/interactive-screening-program/.
- Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education—Physician Well-Being: http://www.acgme.org/What-We-Do/Initiatives/Physician-Well-Being.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours/every day) https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/.
- Well-Being Index: https://www.mededwebs.com/physician-well-being-index.
- Helpguide.org – Trusted Guide to Mental & Emotional Health: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-symptoms-and-warning-signs.htm.
- National Wellness Institute: http://www.nationalwellness.org/.
- Facts about physician mental health and suicide: https://www.datocms-assets.com/12810/1578319045-physician-mental-health-suicide-one-pager.pdf.
- Timothy Brigham, M.Div., Ph.D., on Physician Well-Being: http://www.acgme.org/What-We-Do/Initiatives/Physician-Well-Being/Timothy-Brigham-MDiv-PhD-on-Physician-Well-Being.