(Montreal) The mental health of caregivers has been deteriorating for several years. The “Generous States” forum addressed this finding on Friday in Montreal.
Doctors, psychiatrists, social workers and nurses have come together to propose an action plan to improve the mental health of those who care for the health of others.
The mental health of health professionals is an issue that was of concern even before the pandemic. The insurer Beneva noticed a 120% increase in departures lasting more than two years among carers due to psychological problems between 2017 and 2022.
The 120 professionals gathered at the forum organized by the Association of Psychiatric Physicians of Quebec (AMPQ) discussed in order to propose different possible solutions, which will be compiled by students from the Health Center of HEC Montreal. Experts from the organizing committee will then meet to publish a book of proposals.
“If we have a solid action plan, I guarantee you that I will promote it so that it is associated with sufficient funds to set it in motion in the next year, in the next budget,” promised the responsible minister. of Social Services, Lionel Carmant, during his speech to the participants of the forum.
For the president of the AMPQ, Dr. Claire Gamache, it is necessary to take care of the mental health of the nursing staff as soon as they are on the school benches. “We are in this culture of excellence, of not being allowed to make mistakes, of always being in extremely high standards, and that brings vulnerabilities. I used to say that depression is taught a bit in university in medicine,” Dr. Gamache said.
And we must also focus on the arrival of these young professionals on the labor market, according to the psychiatrist. “You really have to think about how you welcome new workers, how you support them, how you protect them, both from trauma and from the virus,” she said.
Mental health issues are not limited to medical students. A professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Montreal, Emmanuelle Khoury, says that students do internships quickly, and that their ideals of an anti-oppressive and equitable practice of social work often come up against a rigid system. “That’s performance, in the sense of how many people do I see, for how long,” Ms. Khoury explained.
The professor notices that social workers go to the private network or change professions. “It is a symptom of a network that does not take care of the workers. We have to take care of our network, and vice versa,” Khoury said.
Prior to the forum, the organizing committee of the “Etats Généraux” conducted a series of interviews to present initial solutions to improve the mental health of health care personnel. Among them, there is the idea of making decisions individually as a professional with a global health objective, and that patients are in the right place at the right time.
For Dr. Gamache, the forum was intended to be a place of interdisciplinary exchanges so that health professionals find “a shared meaning” in their work. “If our healthcare system can become a learning system, we can adapt to change,” said the psychiatrist.
For Dr. Olivier Farmer, a psychiatrist working in a hospital setting and at the Old Brewery Mission shelter, it is important to act upstream to prevent patients from being on a waiting list, rather than trying to reduce it to all cost.
“If the government is pushing to empty the waiting list, that must mean that I have to see lots of new cases, not always so relevant. There I rush, and I do lots of notes, that’s my main activity. And if people come to the emergency room, they have to be hospitalized. We are in the hospital doing a lot of things that we could do in the community,” he explained.
“I find that I work much better when I’m in close proximity, my actions are more effective,” Farmer added.
He believes that organizational measures could also be taken to prevent patients from clogging the emergency room “for nothing”. For example, giving family physicians access to the cast room.
“[Family doctors] can prescribe the cast, but they don’t have access to the cast room equipment that is in the hospital. They are forced to send them [the patients] to the emergency room, where they do the whole emergency process, see the emergency room doctor again, who will see the same thing,” explains the psychiatrist.
“We are still stuck with the waiting list indicator because we do not have many other indicators available in the network, so we are working to develop our indicators”, said the Minister on this subject. Carmant in an interview, stating that “we went from 700,000 patients seen per year to 900,000 seen per year”.