Photo from L to R:
Ankita Batla, Claire Gillis, CEO VMLY&Rx, Daniel Gearon
On World Mental Health Day (10 October), medical health charity You Okay, Doc? and heath communications agency VMLY&Rx pledge their support to physicians worldwide, calling for more awareness and support for the mental health of doctors.
The collaboration follows interim findings from a new qualitative study from VMLY&Rx that suggests junior doctors continue to receive inadequate support for their mental health. The top-line findings, based on face-to-face interviews with junior doctors in the UK, highlight the need for:
- Clearer mental health signposting at the start of – and throughout – medical training
- More proactive mental health support within medical schools and hospitals
- Greater awareness of mental health support for doctors in hospitals
- A cultural shift away from stigma and stoicism across the profession that dissuades doctors from reaching out for mental health support in fear of a negative impact on their career
- Addressing the issues of hierarchy, gender and ethnic bias that present additional barriers to seeking support.
The early findings of the VMLY&Rx study mirror evidence from You Okay, Doc? and recent literature reviews that reveal a systemic failure to support the mental health of doctors on an international scale. The latest research comes against a backdrop of escalating rates of mental ill health and suicide among doctors and coincides with increased pressure on front-line staff as they help manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study’s author – Dr Ankita Batla, Chief Medical Office Lead, Health Insights & Patient Partnerships, VMLY&Rx – says the early findings underline the urgent need for improved training, better working conditions and increased support for medical professionals.
Batla said: “Our initial findings confirm that we provide inadequate mental health support for doctors and physicians. The interviews we conducted revealed systemic failures further exasperated by a culture of fear and pseudo-heroism that forces many doctors to feel too guilty or ashamed to ask for mental health support.
“Our findings only reinforce evidence from You Okay, Doc? and evidence-based studies all over the world. In the UK alone, a doctor dies by suicide every 3-4 weeks. Those in the medical community have suffered unimaginable pressures on …….