Healing the Healers: Center for Behavioral Health Makes Its Debut

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Healing the Healers: Center for Behavioral Health Makes Its Debut

September 18, 2019

Encounters with death, illness, and trauma can subject healthcare professionals to burnout and mortality anxiety. What’s more, the industry’s culture of perfection normalizes high levels of anxiety, swaying physicians and healthcare professionals from seeking help. The Center for Behavioral Health aims to break mental health stigmas and engage New York Institute of Technology’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) and School of Health Professions communities in a healthy dialogue.

The Center, which made its debut on September 13, aims to raise awareness through research, educational opportunities, and campus resources as well as provide confidential counseling, and psychological and psychiatric services, treatment, and prevention. One of the first initiatives will be a health screening tool with an online questionnaire to identify at-risk students.

Healthcare professionals face stressors before even stepping foot in a clinic. While completing their education, the pressure to balance a personal life with rigorous classwork and licensing exams can cause anxiety and poor academic performance. More than 27 percent of medical students surveyed In a 2016 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study showed signs of depression, with more than 11 percent reporting thoughts of suicide.


From left to right: Victor Schwartz, Liat Jarkon, Anu Raj, Ellen Ritz, and Michael F. Myers at the opening of the Center of Behavioral Health.

“It’s so important for our clinicians to understand that seeking help is not a weakness, it’s a responsibility to both ourselves and our patients,” said Liat Jarkon, D.O., director of the Center for Behavioral Health and assistant professor of Family Medicine at NYITCOM.

The misconception that future clinicians must maintain a stiff upper lip while completing challenging coursework often prevents these students from seeking help or admitting that they struggle with their mental health.

“We are beyond thrilled to launch this vital mission to promote mental health well-being to the students, faculty, and staff of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and School of Health Professions,” said Jarkon. “With the Center’s launch, we’re already starting to speak more openly about mental health, increasing awareness, decreasing stigma, and offering hope and solutions. I look forward to partnering with the community to keep that momentum going.”

Other speakers at the Center’s debut include Victor Schwartz, M.D., clinical associate professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and chief medical officer at The Jed Foundation; Anu Raj, Psy.D., assistant professor of Family Medicine at NYITCOM; Ellen Ritz, R.N., health educator and president of NAMI Queens/Nassau; and Michael F. Myers, M.D., professor of Clinical Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, who touched on topics such as depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention.

Learn more about the Center for Behavioral Health.