On Thursday, July 16, Washingtonian hosted an event on how to maintain one’s mental health in times of crises. The panel convened J. Stephen Jones, MD, President & CEO of Inova Health System, Marissa Leslie, MD, Chief of Psychiatry of Adventist HealthCare, and Monica Schmude, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic. The conversation covered topics such as how healthcare workers and patients are being supported physically and mentally during the pandemic, what does it look like to return to work, and ways to get help if you or a loved one is struggling.
Dr. Jones kicked off the conversation talking through Inova’s strategy to deal with the pandemic, including how they are approaching critical patients, before talking about the mental health toll that this has taken on front line workers. “Someone mentioned that the word ‘unprecedented’ was being overused, “he said, “but I can’t find a better word. Literally, this has never existed on this planet.” He described the four crises that are affecting the world right now: a COVID-19 crises, a financial crisis. a racial crises and a mental health crisis. “This is exhausting work, ” he said. “Taking care of COVID patients is physically more difficult than taking care of ‘normal’ patients.” Combining this with the physical constraints of PPE and compassion fatigue creates a tough environment.
As a psychiatrist, Dr. Leslie then spoke about what her patients are sharing during this tough time. “I see a combination of youth and adults [patients]. I see a I was surprised by how resilient my patients were,” she offered. “Slowly, I’m starting to see concerns around the things they are not able to do… I’m seeing a lot of grief.” Dr. Leslie also described the positive trend she has noticed of people taking a more active role in their health via telemedicine.
Both Drs. Jones and Leslie continue on how individuals and employers should think about mental health and how to seek help. “We should recognize that people working at home are working right now,” Dr. Jones explained. “If your employees aren’t healthy, your organization isn’t going to be healthy.”
To learn more about mental health resources from Cigna, click here.
Missed the event? Click the link below for the full video and learn more!
Thank you to Cigna for supporting the event!