“People were already at a breaking point,” says Dr. Srijan Sen, a psychiatrist and University of Michigan professor. “And then COVID hit.”
“They need breaks”
Sen researches stress, anxiety and depression among resident physicians. The interest, for him, is personal. He says two of his friends attempted suicide while in medical school. One survived. One did not.
Before the pandemic, Sen says 25-30% of resident physicians showed signs of depression, a rate five times higher than the rest of the population. In the early stages of the pandemic, Sen says mental health for these physicians actually improved.
“We heard reports that physicians felt like this is what I actually became a doctor to do,” Sen says. “And there was a sense of people pulling together that everyone in the hospital and even in the larger society was hailing physicians and clinicians as heroes. And it felt like we were all in it together and working toward a common purpose.”