More than half of all physicians in the United States experience symptoms of burnout, according to recent research. Recognizing that long hours and demanding work can lead to personal and professional problems, Feinberg encourages both its physician and research faculty to seek support through its Faculty Wellness Program.
“We know that physicians are at higher risk for depression, substance use and suicide than the general population,” said Richard Carroll, PhD, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and director of the program.
“This is particularly true for physicians who are at an academic medical center,” he said. “They have multiple demands on them: not only clinical responsibilities, but also teaching, research and often administrative responsibilities. Non-physician faculty have many of the same stressors and also show higher levels of burnout and depression.”
The aim of Feinberg’s Faculty Wellness Program is to promote professional success by helping faculty members address issues such as stress, mental health problems, disruptive behavior and management complaints.
Carroll works with two categories of faculty: those who voluntarily request assistance and those who are referred to it by a supervisor. As director of the program, he consults with each individual and connects him or her to appropriate external or internal resources, such as Northwestern University’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.
The service is free and confidential.
“Unless someone is a risk to themselves or others, we don’t report back to the department or managers when faculty seek help through this program,” Carroll said.
Since its launch two years ago, the Faculty Wellness Program has helped faculty facing depression, anxiety and alcoholism get treatment, guided faculty to resources for family members experiencing difficulties and facilitated interventions for faculty involved in sexual harassment and workplace bullying. The program also provides resources for those who are having interpersonal problems with colleagues, staff or students.
“Our goal is help faculty develop in their careers,” Carroll said. “If they experience problems, we want to assist them in a supportive way.”
For more information about reaching the program visit its website here.