A survey of more than 800 Dutch and Flemish psychiatrists and psychiatrists in training gives a disturbing picture of the professional group. Almost 30 percent of the surveyed psychiatrists feel emotionally exhausted. Just as many think they stop working.
“That’s worrying,” says Joeri Tijdink of De Jonge Psychiater, the interest group that drew up the survey. “On the one hand you see very passionate people who really want to be there for their patients. But on the other hand, they also run into the fact that they don’t feel any autonomy and are thwarted by bureaucracy. That’s a very complicated stalemate.”
The interviewees indicate that they are particularly dissatisfied with their position within the mental health services. Four out of ten indicate that health care has become too big to still be able to offer personal care. They also want a more leading role.
“The psychiatrist has been marginalized in mental health institutions in recent years,” says Tijdink in the CCeit Radio 1 News. “We’re being pushed more and more backwards and we’re only called in when there are problems or when it’s getting very complex.”
Also, almost all psychiatrists think the waiting lists are too long and many suffer from the high administrative pressure. Furthermore, they complain that social problems end up on psychiatrists’ plates, such as the treatment of the so-called confused persons.
The Dutch Association for Psychiatry (NVvP) recognizes the image that Tijdink sketches. “Of course I see the things that are mentioned,” says chairman Elnathan Prinsen. “Sometimes you get trapped between the things you think are good for patient care and the things the organization expects of you
According to Prinsen, psychiatrists are expensive and scarce and are therefore looking at how they can be used as little as possible. “Then you’re going to divide it up so that the people who are scarcest need to do the least.”
And that leads to a negative spiral, says Prinsen. “On the one hand, psychiatrists get the feeling that they can’t do their job to the full. And that’s why they’re leaving the mental health facility, making them even scarcer.”
“Hand in hand in your own bosom
According to Tijdink of De Jonge Psychiater, structural changes are needed for the profession. For example, he advocates better communication between institutions that forward patients.
“I think we can do a lot more by organizing and looking: how can we make that patient care better,” says Tijding. “But we also have to put our hands in our own bosom, because I think we’ve let ourselves eat the cheese from the bread.”
Psychiatrists also enthusiastic
Prinsen van de NVvP also thinks that the role of the psychiatrist should be re-examined. “The main thing is: where do you put them. You have to put psychiatrists at the front. Good diagnostics, good assessment of the indication and then, depending on the indication, giving them a role in the treatment”
Despite all the things that psychiatrists come up against, they are also satisfied, adds Prinsen. For example, almost all psychiatrists are very enthusiastic about contact with patients. “The vast majority also feel that he or she can really mean something to patients