Compassion & Empathy

Surviving Tragic Times: Mental Wellbeing Tips for Healthcare Providers and our Patients

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Natural disasters and tragedy can strike without warning leaving us forever changed. Returning to work after a tragedy can prove to be an extremely difficult task for those of us on the front lines of health care.

This week on our podcast we are joined by Dr. Kacey Gibson to discuss helping our patients and ourselves through these difficult times.

This podcast with Dr. Gibson is about how going through a natural disaster can impact our mental well-being. She provides insight into how we can deal with these disasters and guide our patients through tragic situations.

Dr. Gibson is a family medicine doctor in Pensacola, Fla., and a Physician Coach faculty member with the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) team. Her experience with practicing medicine and dealing with hurricanes is extensive.

Dr. Gibson is no stranger to natural disasters as she grew up on the Gulf Coast. She has lived in many parts of the southeast United States that have been susceptible to natural disasters over the past few decades.  Other topics covered in today’s episode include dealing with acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and implementing the BATHE communication technique to work with patients dealing tragedy.

In addition to her encounters with natural disasters, Dr. Gibson has firsthand familiarity with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These experiences have shaped her perspective. We are grateful for her courage when it comes to her efforts to normalize these vital mental health discussions.

She truly brings a unique insight to this topic.

“I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the past and I’ve received treatment for that. I have a very healthy understanding of how that can affect us and affect the way we operate, think, and work,” she said.

Dr. Gibson reminds us that the following emotions are completely normal as we encounter a natural disasters:

  • anxiety,
  • insomnia,
  • grief,
  • not knowing what’s next,
  • hopelessness.

“When we’re possessed with any kind of stressful situation, those can all be very normal emotions. And I think a lot of times people don’t want to say, I’m feeling something right now,” she said.

Dealing with feelings of intense anxiety and hopelessness for six to eight weeks in the aftermath of a tragedy is known as acute stress disorder, according to Dr. Gibson. Once it goes beyond that, it can be classified as PTSD.

Counseling can be helpful when it comes to processing these emotions at any stage of your journey.

“The sooner you recognize those feelings and emotions, the sooner you process them, the sooner that you’re going to be able to move on,” Dr. Gibson said.

More HX Matters Podcasts

Our podcast is dedicated to transforming the health care experience so that every person can receive and deliver the best care.

You can subscribe to our podcast for free on all major podcast platforms and for video of our interviews, you can always check out the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) on YouTube. Catch up on all episodes of our podcast by subscribing and following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music and more.