Doctors suffering depression are less likely to reach out for help

OVER 80 per cent of doctors know of other doctors experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, according to a new survey published by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund.

The survey also revealed that doctors are unlikely to reach out for fear of discrimination or stigma from colleagues (84 per cent), or are inhibited by their own “high achieving” personality traits (66 per cent).

The RMBF has released the survey results to mark a new campaign called ‘What’s Up Doc?’ which aims to highlight the care and support the organisation offers to doctors who are working and living under increasing pressure. The RMBF runs 250-strong volunteer network, which includes area visitors, medical liaison officers, phone friends and guild officers.

RMBF chief executive Steve Crone says: "We know that many doctors are reticent about coming forward and seeking help, and others don’t know what help is available - we want that to change.

"Last year, the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund helped 40 doctors return to work or remain in employment and provided 212 beneficiaries with financial assistance. However, we know that even more doctors and their families around the UK could benefit from our help."

The RMBF has developed a free downloadable online guide for doctors and their families called The Vital Signs by Dr Richard Stevens, which highlights common stressful trigger points for doctors, as well as signposting help and advice.

The RMBF will all also be holding an expert roundtable debate at the Royal College of Physicians – sponsored by MDDUS – in April to explore how the healthcare community can come together to help support doctors. A full write-up of this meeting will published in the May issue of Pulse magazine and the highlights can be viewed on the RMBF website.