Healthcare professional burnout, depression and suicide prevention

Placing a priority on mental health enables healthcare professionals to better take care of themselves and their patients.

Postvention resources

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Colleges of Veterinary Medicine provides guidance in the event of a death by suicide of a student within a school or college of veterinary medicine. This toolkit contains strategies for helping the veterinary medical community to grieve, to mitigate the risk of contagion, and to attend to the main details of crisis response, communication, and next steps for prevention. This toolkit was created by AFSP in partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Medical Schools provides guidance in the event of a death by suicide of a medical student. This toolkit contains strategies for helping the medical community to grieve, to mitigate the risk of contagion, and to attend to the main details of crisis response, communication, and next steps for prevention. This toolkit was created by AFSP in partnership with the Mayo Clinic.

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Residency/Fellowship Programs provides guidance in the event of a trainee’s death by suicide within a physician residency or fellowship program. This toolkit contains strategies and guidance for hospital and program leaders, helping the community to grieve, mitigate the risk of contagion, and to attend to the main details of crisis response, communication, and next steps for prevention. This toolkit was created by AFSP in partnership with the Mayo Clinic.

Facts about mental health and suicide

Resources for healthcare professionals and medical educators

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Resources – Resources to share with programs, institutions, residents, and fellows that promote a culture of physician well-being and provide support in the case of burnout, depression, or suicide.

Banfield Pet Hospital® Announces New Training to Combat Industry-Wide Veterinary Suicide Crisis – A joint Press Release from Banfield Pet Hospital® and AFSP about the launch of Banfield’s suicide prevention program, ASK (Assess, Support, Know).

Breaking the Culture of Silence on Physician Suicide – A sharable graphic and information about physician suicide from the National Academy of Medicine.

Creating a Safety Net: Preventing Physician Suicide – An article by AFSP Chief Medical Officer Christine Moutier, M.D., for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ AAMC News.

Reducing the Stigma: Faculty Speak Out About Suicide Rates Among Medical Students, Physicians – An article by Dana Cook Grossman, for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ AAMC News.

Preventing Suicide in Physicians, Residents and Medical Students (Video) – Dr. Christine Moutier addresses the American Psychiatric Association, May 20, 2016.

Veterinary Medicine Professionals Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Webinar – Hosted by AMVA Life and Pet Poison Helpline, Dr. Christine Moutier presents the data related to both human and animal medicine HCPs as well as evidence based or promising approaches to reduce risk.

Symposium on Physician Well-Being – A symposium held on November 17-18, 2015 by The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Leaders in Academic Medicine Address Physician Well-being and Resilience – A news release from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Preventing Physician Distress and Suicide – Tools for identifying at-risk physicians and facilitating access to care from the American Medical Association.

Make the Difference: Preventing Medical Trainee Suicide (Video) – A 4-minute PSA from Mayo Clinic and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that explains how everyone can help prevent suicide by being alert for the signs of depression and escaping stress and how to be most helpful. This film can be used in medical school physician wellness, humanism and professionalism curricula. Featured at top of this page.

Why Physicians Die by Suicide – Dr. Michael Myers guides readers through the variety of factors that contribute to physician suicide. He then makes practical, across-the-board recommendations in an effort to prevent this tragedy, arriving at the encouraging conclusion that everyone has a role to play in saving a doctor’s life.

Struggling in Silence: Physician Depression and Suicide (DVD) – An award-winning, one-hour documentary from AFSP, that sheds light on the topic of physician mental health and suicide prevention, featured on public television stations nationwide. This film can be used in medical school physician wellness, humanism and professionalism curricula.

Struggling in Silence/Out of the Silence (DVD) – Two short videos (15 minutes each) describing physician and medical student depression and suicide risk. A printable resource guide and slide set are available for both films. These films can be used in medical school physician wellness, humanism and professionalism curricula.

Collateral Damage: The Impact of Patient Suicide on the Physician, a DVD film of several physicians speaking about their experience of patient loss to suicide, and group discussion. Psychiatrists featured in this educational film include Drs. Glen Gabbard, Sidney Zisook, and Jim Lomax. This resource can be used to facilitate an educational session for physicians, psychologists, residents or other trainees.  Please contact education@afsp.org to request the DVD.

American Medical Student Association – The oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States.

Suicide Risk in Physicians – Emergency Physician Dr. Mel Herbert produces a popular podcast called EMRAP for healthcare professionals in Emergency Medicine. In this 26-minute podcast he speaks with Dr. Christine Moutier about suicide risk and prevention for physicians and trainees.

Nurse Suicide: Breaking the Silence – The National Academy of Medicine released a landmark paper in 2018 as a call for action regarding nurse suicide.

Nurse suicide in the United States – A national study of suicide in nursing professionals finds elevated risk.

Facilitating Help-seeking Behavior Among Medical Trainees and Physicians Using the Interactive Screening Program – Article in the Journal of Medical Regulation

Physician Mental Health: An Evidence-Based Approach to Change – Article in the Journal of Medical Regulation

Update on the UC San Diego Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) Program – Article in the Journal of Medical Regulation

Sustainability and Outcomes of a Suicide Prevention Program for Nurses – Article in Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing

Prevention programs

Interactive Screening Program (ISP) – AFSP’s signature intervention program, the ISP is an online tool used by medical schools, including colleges of veterinary medicine, hospitals and health systems, across the country as a method of connecting to students, residents and faculty, and encouraging them to utilize available mental health services before crises emerge. ISP is listed as a Best Practice for Suicide Prevention and is an integral part of a comprehensive suicide prevention and mental health promotion strategy.1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Medical Trainees (Guille, C., et al., JAMA Psychiatry, 2015)

Intervention to Promote Physician Well-being (West, C.P., et al. JAMA Intern Med., 2014)

Stanford’s Burnout Prevention Approach (Schulte, B., Washington Post, 2015)

ASK – Assess, Support, Know – Developed by Banfield Pet Hospital® “ASK” (Assess, Support, Know) is the first of its kind training designed specifically to help veterinary professionals recognize and address emotional distress and suicidal thoughts in themselves and others. The ASK training is available as a free resource for the entire veterinary profession.

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