Top Things to Know: Fostering Psychologic Safety and Supporting Mental Health Among Cardiovascular Health Care Workers

Published: May 30, 2024

  1. Psychological safety is an important aspect of the well-being of health care workers and can help address burnout and workforce shortages.
  2. Psychological safety in the workplace refers to the shared belief that individuals or teams feel included, safe to learn and contribute, and safe to express their ideas and perspectives without fear of embarrassment or retribution.
  3. Mental health conditions are prevalent among health care workers, but the associated stigma is a significant barrier to accessing adequate care.
  4. Workplace harassment has doubled from 2018 to 2022 and is associated with increased odds of depression, anxiety, and burnout.
  5. Positive work environments, including trust in management and support from supervisors, are associated with decreased burnout and better mental health among healthcare workers.
  6. Creating and maintaining psychological safety in health care can be challenging due to the complex and high-stakes nature of the work environment.
  7. Institutional, academic, clinical, and administrative leadership plays a crucial role in creating psychological safety, including understanding and measuring the existing level of safety culture, reviewing and ensuring core organizational practices and policies support fairness and respect, giving positive feedback and appreciation for good work, and providing training courses on teamwork and respectful listening.
  8. Team-level culture and actions, such as team rapport, peer support, and effective communication, are important for fostering a psychologically safe workplace.
  9. A psychologically safe workplace has numerous benefits, including improved health care outcomes, effective communication and team collaboration, adherence to hospital policies, enhanced learning, mental health promotion, and increased engagement and organizational embeddedness.
  10. This advisory includes a review of ways organizations can create a psychologically safe workplace and strategies to promote mental health and reduce suicide risk.


Mehta LS, Churchwell K, Coleman D, Davidson J, Furie K, Ijioma NN, Katz JN, Moutier C, Rove JY, Summers R, Vela A, Shanafelt T; on behalf of the American Heart Association Leadership Committee of the Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences; Council on Cardiopulmonary, Critical Care, Perioperative and Resuscitation; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; and Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research. Fostering psychological safety and supporting mental health among cardiovascular health care workers:a science advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. Published online May 30, 2024. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001259