To Heal the Healers


April 20, 2024

Writer/ Researcher: Kevin Miko M. Buac, M.D.
Graphics: Marc Ahron Cruz
Editor/Moderator: Richardson dR Mojica

Imagine someone you love, a family member or a friend, missing out on the joys and pleasures of life, all for the service of caring for other people. This is a glimpse of the life of a healthcare worker. The sacrifice they make is more than just time; they sacrifice their well-being, personal relationships, and ironically, even their health. These sacrifices so that the people they treat can recover, celebrate more birthdays, and cherish time with loved ones are a priceless gift that enriches lives.


Call them heroes if you want; this was pretty evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the pandemic has also unmasked issues in the healthcare profession. Burnout, isolation, and a lack of professional fulfillment are merely the tip of the iceberg. The Philippine healthcare system faces a grave crisis in its health workforce: the declining number of doctors applying to residency programs in the Philippines threatens to aggravate healthcare shortages, increase the workload on existing workers, and affect the quality of medical care. Furthermore, there is a mass exodus of nurses and allied health professionals seeking better opportunities abroad.  Beyond these challenges, healthcare workers endure inhumane working conditions, inadequate financial compensation, and unsafe working environments, coupled with inadequate healthcare facilities and high patient demands (1). 


These aforementioned issues are just risk factors that elevate the mental health challenges that healthcare workers face. Bringing these issues to light is essential, as collective action is needed to tackle the stigma associated with the mental health of healthcare workers, especially since these are the people who are tasked with taking care of us, and it can be unnerving to realize that those entrusted with our health are also vulnerable. Expectations that healthcare workers must remain unaffected by the very conditions they treat under the guise of strength and resilience add to unjust pressure and exacerbate their mental health challenges. While the issues tackled are systemic, they need to be approached from multiple angles in the form of individual and organizational interventions. Individual interventions range from training healthcare workers with coping skills and self-help strategies; however, organizational interventions such as policies and cultural change are essential as well (2). Thus, healthcare systems need to promote the health and well-being of healthcare workers by utilizing evidence-based practices, as it also impacts and enhances the quality of and safety of healthcare delivery (3).


Healthcare workers, day-by-day, put their health on the line to care for others. Beneath their steadfast dedication, nobility, and heroism is a vulnerability that can no longer be ignored. Let us ensure that no healthcare worker feels alone, forgotten, or isolated. Let us affirm their humanity, acknowledging that caring for them is as important as caring for us all.

Session Questions:

  1. What can we do to reduce the stigma around seeking mental health support, specifically for those in the healthcare profession?
  2. How can workplace policies be reformed to better support the mental health of healthcare workers?
  3. What actions can people do to show support and appreciation for healthcare workers in their community?



  1. Bernal, B. (2024). Gaps in Philippine medical system force patients into debt, healthcare workers to leave for work overseas. CNA.
  2. Anger, W. K., Dimoff, J. K., & Alley, L. (2024). Addressing Health Care Workers’ Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Evidence-Based Interventions and Current Resources. American journal of public health, 114(S2), 213–226.
  3. Melnyk, B. M., Kelly, S. A., Stephens, J., Dhakal, K., McGovern, C., Tucker, S., Hoying, J., McRae, K., Ault, S., Spurlock, E., & Bird, S. B. (2020). Interventions to Improve Mental Health, Well-Being, Physical Health, and Lifestyle Behaviors in Physicians and Nurses: A Systematic Review. American journal of health promotion : AJHP, 34(8), 929–941.


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