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Humanisation of medicine and the mental health of medical staff

13 May 2024

The healthcare work environment is characterised by a unique set of challenges that have a direct impact on the mental health of healthcare staff. Constant exposure to stress, time pressure, the emotional strain of caring for patients and the need to make difficult decisions are a daily reality for many healthcare professionals. These factors can lead to exhaustion, burnout and other mental health problems, undermining staff wellbeing and the effectiveness of the care provided.

Time pressure stems from the constant need to react quickly and make decisions, which is inherent in medical work. This constant sense of urgency can lead to chronic stress that, over time, erodes the ability to relax and recover.
Emotional burden is another significant challenge. Healthcare professionals face suffering, illness and death on a daily basis, which requires them to be not only medically knowledgeable but also extremely emotionally strong. Prolonged exposure to such conditions without adequate support can lead to a phenomenon known as professional burnout, characterised by fatigue, cynicism and reduced job satisfaction.
The need to make difficult decisions highlights the burden of responsibility placed on healthcare professionals. Each decision can have far-reaching consequences for the health and lives of patients, which generates additional stress and tension.
These challenges are compounded by insufficient support and resources in some working environments, which can limit access to psychological support and methods of coping with stress. Not being able to express their concerns and feelings in a safe environment can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness among staff.
Understanding and addressing these challenges is key to protecting the mental health of medical staff. Finding effective strategies to manage stress, building support among teams and promoting open communication can help reduce mental strain and improve the overall wellbeing of staff. In the long term, these measures will not only contribute to better mental health for staff, but will also positively impact the quality of patient care by creating a more supportive and effective working environment.

Humanisation as a response to staff needs

The humanisation of medicine, with its deep roots in empathy, respect and a personalised approach, presents itself as a powerful ally in tackling the mental health challenges faced by healthcare professionals. In a world where pressure, stress and emotional strain are the order of the day, humanistic practices shed light on the path to better wellbeing and more effective care.

Understanding and empathy

The basis of humanisation is empathy - the ability to understand and empathise with others. In medical practice, where employees are exposed daily to the stress of constant pressure and emotional strain, empathy can be the foundation of psychological support. Creating an environment where employees feel that their difficulties are understood and their feelings respected can make a significant contribution to reducing stress levels and preventing professional burnout.

Individual approach

Respecting the individuality of each employee and adapting working conditions to their needs and boundaries is another aspect of humanisation that can have a positive impact on staff mental health. Recognising that each employee has unique needs, healthcare facilities can introduce flexible solutions, such as the ability to adjust work schedules, access to psychological support or programmes that look after mental wellbeing.

Communication and support

Open communication and building a sense of community in the workplace are key elements of humanisation that can address mental health challenges. Promoting dialogue about the difficulties faced by employees and encouraging the sharing of experiences and mutual support creates an atmosphere of trust and understanding. Such a working environment not only alleviates feelings of isolation, but also enables employees to better cope with stress and emotional strain.

Development and education

Humanising medicine also includes investing in personal development and staff education. Training programmes focusing on communication, stress management and relaxation techniques can equip staff with the tools they need to look after their own mental health. Knowledge of the mechanisms of stress, how to alleviate it and build mental resilience is invaluable in an environment where intense emotional experiences occur on a daily basis.

Building a culture of support

Ultimately, the humanisation of medicine encourages a supportive culture in which the mental health of staff is a priority. Facilities that actively work to implement humanistic practices demonstrate that the mental health of staff is as important as the physical health of patients, resulting in a better working atmosphere and higher quality of care.
Addressing the specific mental health challenges of healthcare professionals through humanistic practices is a strategy that can have long-term benefits for both staff and patients. Humanising medicine is not just an idea - it is a practical approach that can change the face of healthcare, making it more supportive, efficient and effective.

Practical implementation of humanisation in medical facilities

Implementing the humanisation of medicine in healthcare facilities is a process that requires commitment on many levels and changes not only structures and procedures, but above all culture and mindset. Based on empathy, respect and a personalised approach, humanisation becomes a signpost on the way to more supportive and effective healthcare.
Instead of standard training, facilities can organise workshops where staff learn how to listen with empathy and engage with patients' stories, which translates into a deeper interpersonal connection and a better understanding of each other's needs. It is in these moments, when the health worker sees the patient as a partner in the treatment process, that real change is born.
Programmes to support the mental wellbeing of staff, such as access to psychological counselling or mindfulness classes, are becoming not so much an add-on as a necessity. Creating spaces where staff can relax and find peace of mind is an investment in their mental health, which directly affects the quality of services provided.
Communication with patients is evolving thanks to modern technology, which enables information to be shared and mutual trust to be built. And yet, it is not mobile apps but open conversations, compassion and staff engagement that form the foundation of trust between patient and doctor.
At the heart of it all is a culture of openness and support, where every member of the team can voice their opinions, share concerns and experiences. This environment, where staff support each other, becomes the driving force behind the facility, translating into higher quality patient care.
Humanising medicine in practice is all about understanding that both healthcare professionals and patients are human beings with their own stories, needs and feelings. Striving to ensure that every interaction in a medical facility is based on a deep human connection becomes key to building a healthier future for healthcare. It is a challenging task, but one that is full of hope for creating an environment where everyone - regardless of their role - feels valued, understood and supported.