Jake Goodman, MD, MBA, is speaking out against retaliation physicians face when they seek mental health treatment.
He's urging physicians to seek help for their anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
“I began experiencing mental health issues of my own when I was in medical school, and I started experiencing symptoms of anxiety,” says Jake Goodman, MD, MBA.
Goodman, a psychiatry resident physician, isn’t the only person to experience anxiety during medical school, but he’s one of the few physicians loudly sounding the alarm, urging for better access to mental healthcare for physicians. He's fighting against the idea that a mental health diagnosis and subsequent treatment should threaten physicians' careers and livelihoods. He uses his social media presence (with over two million followers), TEDx talks, and pure activism to push the conversation forward.
While in his residency, Goodman grew his Instagram account to more than one million followers.
"I started a social media account with the goal of inspiring people that are interested in pursuing [a] career as a physician. But it grew, [and] the mission expanded rapidly as my account grew," says Goodman.
Even as the account grew, Goodman felt uncomfortable posting about his mental health struggles until they deepened.
"I became very depressed, and it was the worst mental place I've been in my life."
— Jake Goodman, MD, MBA
With the support of his friends and family, Goodman finally decided to speak out about his mental health and help others along the way. The first post he made about his mental health struggle was in November 2021, and it was a picture of Goodman with a pill in his mouth. He opened up about seeking help through therapy and medication while also being a doctor.
“It was incredibly therapeutic to just open myself up to the world and just say, “‘Look, this is who I am. I am a doctor, but I also struggle with mental health. And if you are out there struggling with mental health, you're not alone in what you're experiencing,’” says Goodman.
"The world needs to know about this. And it is one thing just to post about it and say, ‘Hey, one in four people are struggling.’ But it's a whole other thing to say, ‘Hey, I'm struggling, and I'm still here. I'm still a doctor.’" says Goodman.
" I'm a better doctor because I'm a better version of myself because I went and sought treatment."
— Jake Goodman, MD, MBA
One in nine trainees or med students experience suicidal ideation, explains Goodman. He’s hoping that by coming forward and creating a platform of understanding and inclusion, others will find the help they need.
“One of the best ways to get better is to talk about it,” says Goodman. “Whether that's therapy, whether that's talking to a friend in residency or an attending or a mentor or a family member, talking about what you're going through has incredible therapeutic benefits and can open the door to recovery and healing.”Read Next: Celebrity MD: 5 organizations and physicians fighting to end mental health stigma for healthcare workers