World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day and Patient Safety

October 10th 2020

It is World Mental Health Day and although many people suffer from mental health issues, I am not familiar with mental health care and treatment at all.  What I do know is that anger, frustration and many other negative emotions can lead to depression which is a diagnosis and as a patient advocate, I do not diagnose.

People suffer from mental health “concerns” for many reasons.  Childhood trauma, assault, financial problems and even loneliness.  Much can be compounded now with our lives in turmoil over this pandemic affecting everyone. 

As I searched for stories and articles on mental health after medical harm, all the studies went to the clinician and how they suffer after injuring someone.  For the past few months, we have been hearing that the people who work in healthcare are “heroes”.  Yes, in many cases they are.    A reporter told me recently that they were not going to run a story on problems in the healthcare system because right now, medical professionals are heroes.

But in the world of patient safety and medical errors, there are others who have mental health concerns in addition to the “heroes”. There is another upset that affects the people who have been harmed and / or lost family members because of the healthcare system.  I continue to hear from family members how much it hurts that their loved ones are not being recognized as a “victim” of a system that let them down even as we remember that medical errors are a serious problem in this country. 

While the studies of depression and mental health following the death or injury of a patient is primarily focused on the clinicians suffering, we need to continue to focus on helping the patient and their family too.

Ilene Corina BCPA is the President and Founder of Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting people after medical harm and helping them through the healthcare system.

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