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Mental Health And Doctors: What do you need to know?

Post date: 30/08/2017 | Time to read article: 1 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 14/11/2018

Working in healthcare can be tough and demanding. Increased workloads, fewer resources and rising patient expectations can take their toll on a doctor’s mental health, as can experience of a negligence claim, and high levels of regulation and scrutiny. 

A recent Medical Protection survey of over 600 members revealed that 85% had personal experience of mental health issues, with stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression being among the most common issues doctors deal with.

If you feel you are experiencing issues with mental health, we advise you to: 

  • Seek help early on - in order to maximise your chances of a speedy recovery and ensure patient well-being, it is vital to seek help when symptoms first present themselves.  
  • Do not be discouraged - 24% of doctors told us they believe there is a stigma attached to mental health issues, which may deter them from seeking help. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to a colleague or manager, you should contact a confidential counselling service (below) or your GP.

If you are worried about a colleague: 

  • Speak up about your concerns - doctors have a professional obligation to consider the impact a colleague’s health could have on the care they provide to patients. Discuss your concerns about their mental health with them, and advise them to seek help. 
  • Seek guidance - As a registered medical practitioner, you have an overriding obligation to ensure a colleague’s health does not have an adverse impact on patient safety. If you have worries about yourself or someone you work with, you may wish to seek guidance from a trusted colleague, your line manager or responsible officer.
  • If you feel that you are struggling to raise the issue locally, call Medical Protection who will be able to advise you on the next steps. As a final option, it may be necessary to inform the General Medical Council of any concerns you have. 

Further help and information

If you are suffering from stress as a result of a complaint, clinical negligence claim, disciplinary matter, or any other medicolegal issue, you can contact Medical Protection’s confidential counselling service. 

For clinical support regarding any mental health issues you may be experiencing, you can contact the NHS Practitioner Health Programme.  

To speak to a fellow doctor about any distress or difficulties you have, you can contact the BMA’s Doctors for Doctors unit.

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