Led by FCB Health New York, a coalition of healthcare organizations is seeking to mitigate the effects of physician burnout and suicide.
The global coalition, called Disappearing Doctors, rolled out The Disposables campaign Thursday afternoon to advocate for mental health support for healthcare professionals (HCP) and honor the lives lost to suicide.
In a nod to the campaign’s name, Jeremy Rosario handcrafted portraits that are composed of disposable medical supplies from doctor’s offices.
Disappearing Doctors also features stories of doctors who have died by suicide on its website, calling attention to the so-called “disposables” and offers HCPs an opportunity to safely share their experiences with each other.
“Our goal with Disappearing Doctors has always been to connect practitioners to counseling and resources to help with the very industry-specific toll on their mental health,” said Mike Devlin, executive creative director at the 2023 MM+M Agency 100 honoree, in a statement. “With ‘The Disposables,’ it is our hope to reach a wider audience in a meaningful way through art, drawing the connection between the way we treat many things in healthcare as disposable — and our physicians are too often similarly treated.”
Physician burnout was a significant concern for healthcare workers and executives even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the outbreak made the issue more acute for both parties and led to renewed conversations around the need for substantive mental health care.
The effort is launching with a live event Thursday afternoon that brings together healthcare leaders to pool resources and educational materials on mental health and suicidal ideation among HCPs. The campaign is supported by partnerships with the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA), physician networking platform Sermo and the Dr. Lorna Breen Foundation.
The latter organization was founded following the suicide of Breen in April 2020, after she had been treating patients with COVID-19 for weeks on end at the start of the pandemic. Breen contracted the virus and recovered but faced an overwhelming schedule of 12-hour shifts filled with a seemingly never-ending cascade of sick patients and concerns over losing her medical license if she didn’t keep showing up for work.
Corey Feist, CEO and co-founder of the Breen Foundation (and the brother-in-law of Dr. Breen), will be honored with the Platinum Award at the 2023 MM+M Awards, scheduled for October 5 in New York city.
To combat stigmatization for doctors who seek out mental health resources, the campaign is partnering with leading medical institutions to support HCPs. One such area of focus for the campaign is eliminating intrusive mental health questions on licensing and credentialing applications for state medical boards across the country.
At the live event, OSMA will distribute a questionnaire designed to be confidential and less intrusive than documents found in other state medical boards.
“We are engaged in a number of initiatives to support healthcare worker mental health, including our online CARE assessment that provides Ohio healthcare workers with a confidential assessment and resources, as well as advocating for changes to the licensing process that eliminate the stigma of doctors and healthcare workers seeking mental and emotional health support,” OSMA president Dr. Eric Drobny stated.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a trained listener, call 988. Visit 988lifeline.org for crisis chat services or for more information.