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Mental Health and Doctors – What do you need to know?

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.

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