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Healthcare Workers Share Similar Struggles to Those They Treat

January 16, 2018

More than 10 percent of healthcare workers are expected to misuse alcohol or drugs during the course of their professional life, according to various studies.  While that isn’t any higher than the general public, people working in healthcare may ignore their own needs to focus on caring for others. This is true for substance abuse as well as mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Like any serious health problem, depression and addiction require professional help. But it can be harder to get help when you work long hours in a stressful environment like a hospital or other healthcare facility.  

“Healthcare professionals struggle like everyone else,” said Lee Albert, LCSW, LADC. “But many have a deep sense of shame and embarrassment about needing the very care they provide to others.  Many people suffer in silence for a long time.”

Albert, who is the program manager for the Institute of Living’s Professionals Program, said many people facing mental health issues or substance abuse minimize their symptoms in order to maintain their professional reputation and avoid being stigmatized.  But there are ways to improve relationships and day-to-day living concerns.

“The Professionals Program is a good fit for people working in our field because they are treated in groups with other healthcare professionals and other professional employees who are facing similar diagnoses,” Albert said. 

Many struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues for a long time before finding treatment that works for them. The Professionals Program, which is open to anyone, is a perfect fit when outpatient services aren’t enough — but inpatient services are too intensive. 

“Caregivers benefit most from a group setting where they can discuss their concerns and challenges with people they can relate to,” Albert said. “Research into group therapy shows these groups are most successful when they contain people with common experiences who can understand and learn from each other.”

The program is committed to maintaining privacy and confidentiality for people seeking care, Albert said.

For information and assessments, call the Institute of Living Assessment Center at 860.545.7200.

For more information about the Professionals Program, click here.