There appears to be an assumption that human frailties, like poor mental health simply don’t apply to Doctors or other healthcare professionals.
Patients rely on Doctors and Counsellors to look after their mental health, but is enough being done to support these people when they are the ones with the problems?
The sad case of Junior Doctor, Sohpie Spooner, illustrates the point. 24 hours after suffering from a panic attack while on the Paediatric Ward where she worked, she had taken her own life. Sophie was known to have struggled with, and suffered from, depression historically. Her Mother (also a Doctor) believes that if her daughter could have sourced a mental health service that understood the particular problems in the context of being a healthcare professional, that Sophie might still be alive today.
The fact is that Doctors (especially female Doctors) are are at an incredibly high risk for mental illness. Up to four times the risk of suicide in comparison to people in the general population. There is an NHS programme that exists called the Practitioner Health Programme (PHP), to offer Doctors a range of assessments and treatments for all mental health problems. However for Doctors outside London, they are unable to access the service anonymously.
Acknowledging that doctors also have mental health problems is perhaps the last taboo in the NHS. This is a very complex area and the available resources appear to not provide the complete solution.
All I would say is, if you are a healthcare professional and you are struggling, please reach out. Your anonymity will be preserved if you visit any counsellor. They might not have all of the answers straight away. However you have taken the first step and that might be the biggest step of all.
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