Doctors’ Mental Health Program gaining ground

22 September 2016

To highlight the need for doctors to care for their own mental health, Beyond Blue has worked with key stakeholders from the mental health and medical sectors to develop the Beyond Blue Doctors' Mental Health Program (bbDMHP).

The aim of the bbDMHP is to address the prevalence of depression, anxiety and suicide among Australian medical students and doctors. Its key objectives are to: increase awareness of the issues affecting the mental health of doctors and medical students; reduce barriers to, and encourage, help-seeking and promote existing services and; support health service employers to protect the mental health of their employees.

One of the techniques used to meet these objectives is the Grand Round. This is a forum where doctors, residents and medical students come together for a presentation which focuses on a particular medical issue, in this case doctors’ mental health.

In the past few months Beyond Blue's Head of Workplace Research, Nick Arvanitis, has been involved in Grand Rounds at the Austin Hospital, Frankston Hospital, Alfred Health Psychiatry and Northern Health. At each presentation, Mr Arvanitis discussed Beyond Blue's initiative, Heads Up, an Australian-first alliance between business groups and the mental health sector. It encourages organisations to create tailor-made mental health plans and treat mental health in the same way physical health is protected by Occupational Health and Safety rules and regulations.

“We believe that these Grand Rounds are helping to both break down the deeply entrenched stigma in the medical profession (around mental health) and raise awareness of the supports available to staff,” Nick Arvanitis said. 

Geoff Toogood

Melbourne cardiologist Dr Geoff Toogood (pictured above) also gave a personal account of his experiences with mental health challenges at the presentations and panel discussions that followed. Dr Toogood said stigma surrounds depression and anxiety in the health system and workplaces need to be educated that ‘‘it’s not a weakness’’.

The response to the Grand Rounds in Victoria has been overwhelmingly positive. “At both Northern Hospital and the Austin hospital, senior leadership openly declared their support for the mental health of their staff and advised that their hospitals have a zero tolerance policy on discriminating against staff with mental health issues,” Mr Arvanitis said.

For more information on Beyond Blue's Doctors' Mental Health Program visit the link below:

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