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Monthly Mental Health Moment: September 2022

Suicide Awareness Month/September 2022

September is Suicide Awareness Month.

We want you to take a moment and think about your mental health or consider those around you. Statistics show that more than one physician dies by suicide every day. Physicians die by suicide at a rate that is more than double the general population. Why?

Physicians and other healthcare workers are on the frontline of a very stressful job. We are trained to take care of others and can often lose track of ourselves. We are told tales of “the days of the giants” when training and practice was even harder. The message is that
we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps or scrub ties and muscle on.

The truth—we cannot care for others if we don’t take care of ourselves. How can we have compassion for another’s pain if we are ignoring our own pain? How can we encourage others to do the hard actions to care of their health if we don’t take care of our own? We tell ourselves that we need to be invincible. We ignore the cracks until we break.

Yet cracks can be mended and turned into something new and beautiful. Witness the centuries-old Japanese art form, Kintsugi, which fills cracks with gold. Broken potter is transformed into a new work of art. It is okay to admit that a crack has formed. You can get help to mend. Remember scars are stronger than normal skin. You can get through a tough time, but you might need help to do so.

Even Superheroes need sidekicks and assistance sometimes. You can reach out to our office directly or complete our anonymous check-in. Don’t ignore your mental health. Check in with yourself and those around you. If something seems off with a colleague ask, “Are you ok?” Then listen and encourage them. Remember–the only thing that cannot be recovered from is a completed suicide.

We are here to help.

Martha Peaslee Levine, MD
Director of the Office for Professional Mental Health

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In This Month's Newsletter

Upcoming Events Expand answer

Drs. Levine and Falk are presenting about Time Management to residency programs per request. Contact PMH to register and for more information.

Wellness Tips Expand answer

Use their supports
Prioritize their health
Engage with others
Remember, though, to take time for themselves
Heed warning signs, such as compassion fatigue
Equip themselves with coping tools
Re-center themselves with breath when stressed
Open themselves to the idea that they can’t manage alone
Enlist their coping strategies/ supports; reach out in a crisis
Save others but also save themselves

Follow-up Related to QPR Training Expand answer

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) teaches individuals techniques so they can help those struggling with suicidal thoughts. PMH provided QPR training to all first-year medical students. We also offer periodic sessions – the next one is on Oct. 20. After completing training, one participant related that he had to help a friend who was navigating suicidal thoughts. He felt that he knew what to say because of his QPR Training. He got help for his friend and treatment for her suicidal thoughts/attempt. Join the training – know what to look for and what to say when someone is struggling. Watch for sessions and sign up! Or let us know if you would like training for your team.

In the News Expand answer

“10 Facts About Physician Suicide and Mental Health” via the ACGME website.

Fact 10:

Unaddressed mental health conditions, in the long run, are more likely to have a negative impact on a physician’s professional reputation and practice than reaching out for help early.

Guest Column for Greater Mental Health Expand answer

We would like to include other tips, stories, suggestions or connections. Please, reach out if you would like to contribute. What helps with your self-care? How do you stay on an even keel? When you are stressed, what helps calm you down? Share your tips and tricks!


Office for Professional Mental Health Contact Information Expand answer

Penn State College of Medicine
Office for Professional Mental Health
500 University Drive, Suite C1746
Hershey, PA 17033


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