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Mental Health Benefits for Health Care Workers – TED Talks

Picture of Lauren Braitman giving speech. Click on the picture to watch TED talk on mental helath Benefits for Heath care workers by Lauren Braitman
Ted Talks on Mental Health

Mental Health Benefits of storytelling for health care workers by Laurel Braitman. This TED talk gives us insights about the importance of being in a good mental state.

Transcript of TED Talk

For the last few years, I’ve been a writer in residence at the Stanford Medical School. I was hired by an incredible woman, she’s a poet and an anesthesiologist, named Audrey Shafer, and she started the Medicine and the Muse Program to reintroduce humanities back into medical education and training. 

My job was to teach writing, storytelling and general communication skills to physicians, nurses, medical students and other health care workers. And I thought I’d get a ton of great student essays about dissecting cadavers and poems about the spleen. And I did. But almost immediately, I started getting more essays that made me really anxious and really worried. 

My students were writing about their crushing anxiety, the unbearable pressure on them to succeed, their mental health diagnoses, their suicide attempts, how alone and isolated they felt and wondered if they’d gone into the right profession, and they weren’t even doctors yet. This is my student Uriel Sanchez. 

The choice you are given through medicine, from a lot of your mentors even, is like, you have to choose, like, being a really good person or a really good doctor?

Physicians’ own humanity and emotional well-being are almost never made a core part of their training or even acknowledged. And real vulnerability, like sharing certain mental health diagnoses, for example, can be absolutely career-ending. 

But nearly 30 percent of American medical students are in depression, and one in 10 have thought about suicide. And it’s actually even worse for practicing physicians. There’s really widespread job dissatisfaction, high rates of depression, and doctors have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession in the United Sates. 

This is scary. Not just for them but for us, too. I really think doctors have the most important job. And if their lives are at stake, ours are, too. 

Now, I am absolutely not a mental health professional. I’m a writer, which most days is absolutely the complete and total opposite. But I can tell you that the more opportunities that I give health care workers to share their daily frustrations, their fears, their joys, what surprises them, what they resent, the better they seem to feel. 

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