Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) CEO Dr Zena Burgess has today pledged to help support general practice environments to be free from the stigma that still exists around medical professionals seeking mental health care.
“Mental health is the number one single reason Australians visit their GP,” Dr Burgess said.
“GPs work tirelessly to provide support and care for Australian patients and to make sure that mental health is viewed just like any other health condition and taken seriously by everyone in our community.
“GPs’ work to care for their patients’ mental health is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, however by its very nature, can be challenging and stressful.
“The RACGP recognises this can contribute to high rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems among doctors.
“We need to ensure we look after the GPs and other medical professions who care for everyone else in our community.”
Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day, providing a worldwide focus on psychological and mental health issues affecting millions globally every day.
Dr Burgess said it was crucial that healthcare organisations like the RACGP, Australian hospitals, and Australia’s political leaders support GPs and all other medical professionals to seek the mental healthcare they need.
“The RACGP has been vocal about amending mandatory reporting laws that discourage doctors from seeking the healthcare they need,” Dr Burgess said.
“Doctors with health issues need to be supported – not reported.”
Dr Burgess said the tides have started to turn when it comes to Australians feeling more comfortable to speak to their GP about their mental health, but now leaders within the medical community needed to ensure they are doing everything possible to ensure medical professionals care for their own health and wellbeing.
“We are seeing the stigma that has been keeping patients away from sitting down with their GP and discussing their mental health concerns diffuse, now that needs to happen with the people who care for these patients’ health,” Dr Burgess said.
“I encourage all GPs to take care of their own physical, mental, emotional and social health and seek support when it is required.
“Treat yourself with the quality of care you provide your own patients.”
The RACGP Self-care and mental health resources for general practitioners was developed to increase GPs’ awareness of available supports for their mental health.