We have failed to address the scale of suicide and mental illness in the medical profession, which is a global issue. Each of us can help prevent doctor suicide with these five strategies at a local and global level:
- We can destigmatise mental illness for doctors of all specialties and medical students
- We can encourage all doctors and medical students to have their own trusted independent family doctor
- We can provide early, optimal management of mental health problems in doctors and medical students
- We can change our medical culture
- We can make our national and global medical organisations work for us
While we have many competing priorities in medicine, the poor mental health of doctors and medical students, which reflects global trends and is impacting on the standard of patient care, deserves ongoing urgent action by the whole medical profession and all medical organisations.
Some medical organisations have set up forums, conferences, websites, doctors’ health services, mentoring programs and other mental health initiatives, but these activities are yet to address the scale of our problem, our complex systemic issues and our challenging culture at national or global levels. Many programs are currently being evaluated and are yet to be promulgated across countries.
Doctors and medical students require training to care for the special needs of medical colleagues. None of this is easy. This interactive workshop focuses on how family can prevent the tragedy of suicide in doctors and medical students– together.
Clinical Professor Leanne Rowe AM is a GP and co-author of Every Doctor: healthier doctors = healthier patients. For more information: www.everydoctor.org