Page 8 - RU RWJ Medicine Magazine • Winter 2021
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“There was this acute period—which was March-April-May, where they’re doing things that are heroic—and then once that plateaus and we begin to see a decrease in the number of COVID patients that are being admitted to our hospitals, we enter into the disillusionment phase, and with that comes the risk for anxiety, PTSD, depression, and suicide,”
Dr. Tobia explains.
Taking a Proactive Approach
Anticipating these issues, the Department of Psychiatry is coordinating several initiatives designed to address depression, anxiety, and other mental and behavioral issues that could increase suicide risk. Three of those initiatives are focused on medical and nursing staff.
The first, semi-monthly film events, began in September 2020 with showings of Disney’s Inside Out and The Sandlot. The events are high- lighted by brief intermissions to analyze the film through a psychiatrist’s lens, with fun, engaging discussions that provide medical staff the chance not only to kick back and socialize, but also offer a forum to review early warning signs and available resources to address
faculty and staff wellness, Dr. Tobia explains. “The goal is to gently prompt participants to
recognize, ‘Oh, I’ve been kind of feeling the same way.’ It’s much easier to talk about the character than to say, ‘In a lot of ways, what we’ve just discussed is what I’m going through.’ But that’s why I’ll have those hotline numbers and contact information available as resources,” says Dr. Tobia.
The department also developed “Quaran- teams,” based on the concept of online commu- nity bulletin boards, to create interdepartmental virtual communities. The Quaranteams will enable individuals from departments in each pod to post comments, concerns, and questions about everything related to COVID-19.
During baseball season, meanwhile, the Yankee
Text Group coordinated by Dr. Tobia enabled avid N.Y. Yankee fans to text each other comments and observations throughout the game as a way of watching and socializing together in the absence of in-person watch parties.
The Department of Psychiatry also initiated a program designed for students, with a particular emphasis on the first- and fourth-year students—first-year students, who’ve missed the typical socialization
as a result of remote learning, and fourth-year students, who may be experiencing stress related to concerns about having missed clinical hours because of the pandemic, says Dr. Tobia. In partnership with the school’s Psychiatry Interest Group, the department’s residents are helping develop
Every 23 seconds of every day in the United States, someone attempts suicide.*
6 Robert WoodJohnson | MEDICINE
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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