Surgeons Face Disabling Mental Health Conditions and Suicide Risk

A medical career as a surgeon is extremely demanding. After years of study in medical school, hopeful graduates spend many more years studying as surgical residents and undergoing intense training and occupational stress. This stress can lead to a number of medical conditions ranging from physical fatigue and exhaustion, injury or psychiatric and psychological impairments. While the medical community is raising awareness of these impediments to practicing medicine, more needs to be done to protect our surgeons. 

As a community, we need to work together to ensure those taking care of our medical needs are not left to fend for themselves. Recognizing the warning signs of mental health conditions and advocating for medical treatment and resources to help those suffering from a condition such as depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, or personality disorders, among other impairments, is an important first step. Acknowledging that these conditions can be accompanied by suicidal thoughts and providing support for surgeons who may be suffering from suicidal ideation is critical in saving lives.

Seltzer & Associates takes disabling mental health conditions very seriously as we see a need to bring these health concerns to the forefront so our clients can receive the help they need, both medically and financially through disability insurance benefits. We acknowledge the stigma that doctors face when it comes to seeking mental health care and treat our clients with the utmost compassion and discretion in handling their disability insurance claims. 

Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention is Crucial in the Medical Profession

Stigma and fear of professional repercussions prevent many physicians and surgeons from seeking the mental health care they need. Not only do surgeons fear that they may lose their jobs or medical licenses, but they do not want to be looked down on by peers, employers, or patients. Many may feel like they need to protect their image by hiding any issues they have with mental health, substance use, and addiction.

To a large extent, the medical field has taught its trainees over the years to deal with the long hours and pressure of the profession without complaint. This is dangerous because it creates a culture of suffering alone. This has been ongoing for decades, and we see the results: doctors hiding their physical and mental illnesses to complete the job at hand, self-medication, and spiraling into worsening mental health. Doctors cannot continue to safely treat patients in this culture or environment. 

There is also a fallacy that to achieve great results, one must not admit to problems or concerns. This extends to surgeons and other medical professionals who get caught in a cycle of hiding the grief of losing patients, the disappointment of patient outcomes that did not meet expectations, and suffering from the pressure of not being able to solve every patient ailment. This pain affects our medical professionals greatly and can exacerbate depression and anxiety, leading to substance use to numb the pain. This can even lead to thoughts of suicide and a heightened risk of suicide in surgeons.

Surgeons do not need to suffer alone. The positive changes to residency to limit hours and provide support for trainees can help alleviate the physical and mental toll of the profession. Addressing medical licensing concerns so that doctors will seek the help they need for mental health rather than suffer alone to stay employed is a critical change to improve the mental health of surgeons and reduce suicide risk. We must not be dissuaded from urging disability insurance companies to provide mental health coverage to insureds, especially to high-functioning medical professionals who can mask their suffering. Practicing medicine under these conditions puts patients and medical staff at risk for additional harm and ultimately puts lives at risk.

If we want to have successful medical care in the future, we need to take care of our medical professionals and medical students today. This includes making a safe space in the profession to seek personal medical care, including medical leave to address mental health concerns. A key piece to this plan is financial security through disability insurance benefits. With the current limitations in many disability insurance policies regarding mental health or substance use, it is best to work with an experienced disability insurance lawyer to secure your disability insurance benefits.

Disability Insurance Benefits Can Provide Financial Security to Seek Mental Health Treatment

Disability insurance benefits provide financial security when a disabling condition prevents the insured from continuing their medical practice. Lost income is offset by these disability insurance benefits. With the financial peace of mind that disability insurance benefits provide, surgeons and other healthcare providers can take time away from work to seek the necessary and life-saving treatment for their mental health conditions. The alternative to untreated mental health conditions is often developing additional impairments, including substance use disorders or in extreme cases, suicide. 

Insurance companies and insurance policies have been catching up to the current recognition of mental health impairments as disabling medical conditions. By providing disability insurance policies that provide coverage for psychological and psychiatric impairments, surgeons can seek necessary mental health treatment. This change in the insurance culture allows for improvement in individual health as well as the overall health of the medical profession.

However, not every insurance company or disability insurance policy provides coverage for mental health conditions, and if they do, there are usually limitations placed on this coverage. This is why it is absolutely essential that you work with an experienced disability insurance attorney to secure your disability insurance benefits. Especially as you undergo the treatment you need for your mental health, you do not need to be fighting for disability insurance benefits alone. Let Seltzer & Associates handle and maintain your claim for disability insurance benefits so you can focus on your well-being.

Schedule Your Free Consultation to Discuss Your Claim for Disability Insurance Benefits

If you are unable to continue practicing due to mental health conditions and suicide risk, you need to work with a disability insurance attorney and secure your disability insurance benefits. Contact Seltzer & Associates to schedule your free consultation by completing our online contact form or calling our office at 888-699-4222.