Socks with an important message for all Docs
A message from GPRA CEO Dr Andrew Gosbell
A social media phenomenon that has become an annual tradition, on the first Friday of June, for health professionals across Australia to wear crazy socks to raise awareness for the mental health of doctors.
Like many GPRA members, I rummaged through my sock drawer and got involved in this year's CrazySocks4Docs day, last Friday.
The aim of CrazySocks4Docs day is to encourage conversations about mental health and help reduce the stigma for doctors experiencing mental illness. The day came out of the response that founder, cardiologist, Dr Geoff Toogood experienced when he wore odd coloured socks to work. His colleagues did not ask if was he okay, instead, all Dr Toogood heard were whispers and muttering that he was "failing" again.
Unfortunately, there are GP registrars who have experienced situations similar to Dr Toogood.
According to the latest GPRA Benchmarking Survey, nearly 1 in 3 GP registrars experience mental health issues during their general practice training. Half of those who experienced a mental health issue indicated that they felt unsupported. The most commonly identified barrier for the survey respondents to seek support for a mental health issue was fear of lack of confidentiality or concerns about privacy.
These findings are concerning and reflect, in part, stigmas associated with mental health issues — which we all know of and may have experienced — in the medical profession.
The Benchmarking Survey also showed that consultation with a GP was the most common professional support sought by respondents, if or when they experienced a mental health issue. GPs play a key role in supporting the mental health of medical professionals — and all GPs need their own GP.
During this busy time of the year, I encourage all GPRA members to take a few minutes and evaluate if they are okay. A career in medicine is hectic and stressful, and during vocational training, this can be even more so with the added pressures of exams and training.
Know that there is support available and that it is important to ask for help if everything if not okay.
GPRA has a range of resources online, including:
- a list of support services for doctors
- common concerns in GP training and who to contact
- personal stories and advice from GPs and GP registrars
Don't forget that your Registrar Liaison Officer (RLO) is employed by your RTO to support you during your GP training.
Find your RLO or ask your Medical Educator if you need help and they can connect you with the range of support services available through your RTO.