Mental Health During Residency Training: Assessing the Barriers to Seeking Care
Resident and fellow physicians are at elevated risk for developing depression compared to the general population; however, they are also less likely to utilize mental health services. We sought to identify the barriers to seeking mental health treatment among residents across all specialties at a large academic medical center in Chicago, IL.
Residents and fellows from all programs were asked to complete an anonymous self-report questionnaire.
Of the 18% of residents and fellows that completed the survey, 61% felt they would have benefited from psychiatric services. Only 24% of those who felt they needed care actually sought treatment. The most commonly reported barriers to seeking care were lack of time (77%), concerns about confidentiality (67%), concerns about what others would think (58%), cost (56%), and concern for effect on one’s ability to obtain licensure (50%).
Despite feeling that they require mental health services, few trainees actually sought care. This study identifies an overall need for improved access to mental health providers and psychoeducation for medical housestaff.
KeywordsResidency Mental health services Barriers Physicians Wellness Stress
The authors thank Ashley Bassett, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, for her help.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states there is no conflict of interest.
This study complies with Northwestern University’s IRB.
- 1.Butterfield PS. The stress of residency: a review of the literature. Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(6):1428–35. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.1988.00380060192034.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 4.Maslach C, Jackson SE. Maslach burnout inventory manual. 2nd ed. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1986.Google Scholar
- 7.Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NDUH Series H-51). Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data. 2016.
- 8.Yaghmour NA, Brigham TP, Richter T, Miller RS, Philibert I, Baldwin DCJ, et al. Causes of death of residents in ACGME-accredited programs 2000 through 2014: implications for the learning environment. Acad Med. 2017;92(7):976–83. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000001736.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar