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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
August 11, 2009

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Unwell doctors shun professional services

Medical professionals who become mentally ill are reluctant to seek

professional advice because of concerns that it could affect their

career, and the perceived stigma attached to mental-health conditions.

According to a survey of 3500 doctors in Birmingham, published by the Royal College of Physicians in the journal, Clinical Medicine, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they would rather discuss mental-health problems with family or friends than seek formal, or informal advice.

Just 13 per cent said they would choose to disclose their illness to a GP or another health professional, while 79 per cent would prefer to be treated in either a private or distant facility, rather than at a local NHS unit. In both cases, the decision often reflects fears that personal information would not be kept confidential and that this may compromise their career and reputation. More than half of respondents (55 per cent) would make the decision about inpatient care based on confidentiality, or stigma issues.

Commenting on behalf of the research team, Dr Alfred White said doctors who avoid seeking professional support for mental-health problems could be putting themselves and their patients at risk.

“Doctors suffer higher levels of depression and substance misuse, as well as higher rates of suicide, than the general population,” explained Dr White. “The apparent lack of confidence in the current system protecting doctors’ confidentiality may exacerbate these trends.

“Greater emphasis is needed to educate doctors on mental health and to improve and extend the options open to them for accessing mental-health support.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.

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