Self-care and mental health resources


Caring for yourself



 

General practice is a rewarding and fulfilling career contributing to improving the lives of many people across Australia. However, by its very nature, this work can be challenging and stressful.

The RACGP recognises this can contribute to high rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems among doctors. However, multiple barriers exist preventing medical professionals accessing mental health services.

Self-care and mental health are critical for ensuring overall health and wellbeing for general practitioners (GPs). Proactively managing physical and mental health promotes the development of more effective and sustainable work environments and a healthy work–life balance.

The RACGP encourages all GPs to take care of their own physical, mental, emotional and social health and seek support when required. Resources and services are available, specifically developed for general practitioners and health professionals, relating to self-care and mental health wellbeing.


Self-care is about ensuring you look after yourself without becoming your own doctor, and includes looking after your physical, mental, emotional and social health. Self-care is both a preventative and therapeutic action. Self-care is:
  • recognising your limits, setting boundaries, establishing and working towards achieving goals and maintaining a work–life balance
  • implementing strategies to provide care and compassion to yourself
  • setting up the foundation for positive mental and physical health
  • accessing support as required
  • undertaking deliberate, self-initiated activity to take care and control of your own wellbeing.
 

Self-care strategies can include:

  • not taking work home, where possible
  • scheduling regular breaks
  • being realistic with time and avoiding overcommitting
  • developing and maintaining healthy therapeutic boundaries
  • debriefing with colleagues regularly
  • demanding a good work–life balance (and not seeing this as a sign of weakness)
  • maintaining a healthy, balanced diet
  • scheduling regular physical activity
  • practising good sleep habits
  • practising mindfulness
  • participating in activities that bring personal joy
  • making your relationships a priority and enjoying time with family and friends
  • maintaining connection with culture, country and community
  • establishing a relationship with an independent GP to assist you to manage your own health.
 

The RACGP strongly recommends all GPs seek out a regular GP who can provide ongoing independent and objective professional medical advice and work with you to manage your physical, mental and emotional health.

Taking care of your own health will ultimately better equip you to safely provide care for others.

The RACGP acknowledges many GPs work in areas of isolation and face additional challenges in accessing independent medical and psychological services. Telehealth consultations may provide a solution. Telehealth-capable GPs are searchable via the National Health Services Directory.


RACGP GP Support Program

The RACGP GP Support Program offers free, confidential specialist advice to help cope with professional and personal stressors impacting areas such as mental health and wellbeing, work performance and personal relationships.

The service is available to all RACGP members who are registered medical practitioners at locations across Australia, including in regional and remote areas. The service is delivered by Telus Health and clinicians are Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) registered psychologists and Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) registered social workers.

Appointments for face-to-face or telephone counselling during business hours can be made by calling 1300 361 008 (office hours 8.30 am – 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday) and via the same number for 24-hour/7-day-a-week crisis counselling.

DRS4DRS

DRS4DRS is an independent program providing confidential support and resources to doctors and medical students across Australia. The DRS4DRS website provides coordinated access to mental health and wellbeing resources, training on becoming a doctor for doctors, community news and navigation to each state/territory helpline and referral services. Confidential phone advice is available 24/7 for any doctor or medical student in Australia.

State/Territory

Telephone

Australian Capital Territory

1300 374 377

New South Wales

02 9437 6552

Northern Territory

08 8366 0250

Queensland

07 3833 4352

South Australia

08 8366 0250

Tasmania

1300 374 377

Victoria

1300 330 543

Western Australia

08 9321 3098

CRANAplus Mental Health and Wellbeing Services

CRANAplus Mental Health and Wellbeing Services include the Bush Support Line, wellbeing workshops, resources and education. The Bush Support Line provides a free and confidential 24-hour/7-day-a-week on demand telephone counselling service for rural and remote health workers. This culturally safe service is staffed by psychologists with a minimum of five years clinical experience and all have experience in the rural and remote sector. CRANAplus membership is not required to access the service. Phone 1800 805 391.

The Essential Network (TEN) for Health Professionals

This online e-mental health hub, developed by the Black Dog Institute, connects frontline healthcare workers with services to help manage burnout and maintain good mental health.

Hand-n-Hand Peer Support

Helping Australian and New Zealand Nurses and Doctors (Hand-n-Hand) offers free confidential peer support for health professionals.

Lifeline

Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Phone 13 11 14.

beyondblue

beyondblue’s support service is available 24 hours /7 days a week by phoning 1300 22 4636 or via webchat 3.00 pm – 12.00 am/7 days a week.


Organisations /agencies  
Courses/participation
  • In-practice group supervision - General practices may consider establishing a model of group supervision, facilitated by a non-medical professional with experience in counselling and mental health, such as a psychologist or mental health social worker. A BMJ article provides an example of implementing group supervision in general practice.
  • Doctors health courses are searchable via the RACGP website and are available via face-to-face, e-learning and blended models
  • CRANAplus provides education, including courses in self-care and resilience, for rural and remote health practitioners
  • Balint groups, coordinated by the Balint Society of Australian and New Zealand, are experiential, small group educational activities in which healthcare professionals discuss cases from their practices with a focus on the clinician–patient relationship. One aim of Balint groups is to develop mutual support between health practitioners by sharing experiences, feelings and details of the more challenging situations in clinical practice.
  • The Blue Knot Foundation provides training on burn out, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma
 
Reading material  
Digital mental health resources
  • Informal online support networks on social media platforms host open and closed forums allowing GPs to connect with other practitioners, providing mutual support, understanding and resource sharing
  • Head to Health is an Australian Government, Department of Health repository for online mental health resources, including mental health apps

 

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