Suicide Care During a Pandemic
The last few years have challenged health and behavioral healthcare in many ways. The COVID-19 pandemic magnified existing vulnerabilities in global mental health. The World Health Organization reported a 25% rise in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. In the U.S., the American Psychiatric Association found demand for mental health supports almost doubled from 2020 to 2021, and in 2020 alone mental health emergency department visits among children increased by 27% according to the CDC.
Patients are experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms and so are the people who treat them. A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General stated that in 2021 healthcare workers reported feeling more stressed compared to 2020 and that 76% of healthcare workers reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition. Suicide deaths among physicians and nurses have risen since the beginning of the pandemic. The Lorna Breen Act, passed in March 2022, increases funding to support the mental health of the healthcare workforce–a crucial step to care for our caregivers.
Nurturing Zero Suicide Efforts
Providing suicide-specific treatments for patients at risk and ensuring workers are supported in a just culture are integral aspects of an organizational commitment to Zero Suicide.
Transformational leaders know a supported workforce is the only way to make Zero Suicide a success. It's crucial that providers know their mental health needs will be recognized by their organization so they sustain the consistent and comprehensive suicide care that saves lives. The ongoing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the vital importance of your work as a Zero Suicide implementer.
From our Zero Suicide Institute staff, faculty, clients, and implementers in the U.S. and abroad, we've heard incredible stories of systems and people rededicating themselves to safe suicide care. They have all experienced challenges and innovations, pain points, and lessons learned, and sharing these insights is a key to transformation.
In Suicide Care Insights: Stories & Tips for Your Implementation, we've identified six topics related to workforce wellbeing and how safe suicide care can transform organizational culture. We present them here to you as a series of six resources using a mixed-media approach. Three of the resources are in the form of recorded stories. The other three are downloadable tips on how and what to implement to support and improve care for patients.
We hope these resources inspire you and that you enjoy the series. You can explore each topic by clicking its link below, following the arrows, or navigating the tabs above.