By: Emerson R. Moses, MBA, CPRP
May is Mental Health Awareness month and for me, nothing has stood out more over the past year than how many of us struggle with our mental health and just how prevalent mental health illnesses are. I recall speaking with my therapist last summer about how, while we may not recognize it, we are all experiencing a collective trauma. Living through a pandemic – or any historic and disruptive event – fundamentally disrupts our way of life, way of thinking and sense of safety and security. Then, during the AAPPR Virtual Conference last month, speaker Dian Ginsberg made a comment that really stuck. It was the first time I had even considered it but she acknowledged that through this pandemic, while almost everything shut down, we as physician and advanced practitioner recruitment professionals never really got to stop. Whether you were furloughed, redeployed, impacted by reductions, or were still operating “business as usual” – the urgency around the work we do became so much greater!
Reflecting on that, and in watching the opening videos of conference of what “office life” looked like for us or how we coped living in a world where we could no longer operate within our norms, I found myself being grateful for the support that I found and curious about what all of you did over the past year to bring light into what for many has been a very difficult time. For me, self-care became an even higher priority – and self-care can come in many forms. What we do – and the pressure that comes with it – is not easy. We operate in environments that are often high visibility and high stress. Not only that but we are wearers of many hats and are expected to pivot on a dime at any moment depending on what meeting comes next, what candidate or leader we are talking with or what fire drill is coming at us on any given day. And that can be HARD. So hard.
About 5-6 years ago I found myself in a work situation that was incredibly toxic, to the point where it had an impact on my physical and mental health. I hit a breaking point where I had no choice but to seek help. And through that help I learned so much about myself and my mental wellbeing. I was told that I had likely been operating at an extreme level of depression and anxiety for so long that it was almost unrecognizable – because it was my normal. Years of it. It took hitting rock bottom to realize that but I am so grateful I somehow, somewhere, found the strength to reach out. It changed my life for the better – both personally and professionally. I share this because I believe it is so important to shift the stigma around mental health. And as I speak with our colleagues and we share stories I find that often we are not alone.
The opening 90 second videos from the virtual conference can be found on AAPPR’s Facebook page. There are so many great examples of what work and life has looked like for our colleagues over the past year. I would love to hear from you about how you’ve coped or taken care of yourself over the past year and I would be delighted to share some of my own stories! Watch AAPPR’s social media and Chat channels for posts where you can share stories and photos. And for now I will leave you with just a few simple examples of ways you can look after your own mental health:
- Read a book
- Go for a walk outside
- Listen to music
- Unplug from smart devices for a day
- Set an intention for your day each morning
- Reflect on 5 things you are grateful for at the end of each day
- Take time every day just for you