Skip to main content

Self care reminder for health professionals

Published 26 March 2021

During times of uncertainty and unpredictability, it’s important to look after yourself. Self care is something we all know about, but often don’t prioritise. This is particularly true for those in helping roles, and those trying to juggle their professional and family responsibilities.

Mental health support for GPs

Compassion fatigue is a broadly defined concept that can include emotional, physical, and spiritual distress in those providing care to another. While there is no magic cure, authentic, sustainable self-care practices can help manage the symptoms, such as feelings of isolation, fatigue, emotional outbursts, sadness and apathy, and poor sleep quality. 

Being resilient as a healthcare professional doesn’t mean soldiering on and persevering in the hope that things will get better. Rather, being resilient means having self-awareness, knowing when you’re exhausted and need help, and knowing how to get it. Resilient people are often those who put their hands up first and ask for help.  

Issues of mental health are nothing new in healthcare. A 2013 Beyond Blue study of more than 12,000 doctors found that up to 21 per cent of respondents reported a history of depression, while 6 per cent had an existing diagnosis. Approximately 9 per cent of doctors experienced an anxiety disorder (compared to 5.9 per cent of the population) and 3.7 per cent reported a current diagnosis (compared to 2.7 per cent of the population). The most common sources of work-related stress were the need to balance work and personal responsibilities (26.8 per cent), too much to do at work (25 per cent), responsibility at work (20.8 per cent), long work hours (19.5 per cent), and fear of making mistakes (18.7 per cent).

Support is available

The RACGP Support Program can provide help to RACGP members with a range of issues, including:

  • handling work pressures
  • managing conflict
  • grief and loss
  • relationship issues
  • concerns about children
  • anxiety and depression
  • alcohol and drug issues
  • traumatic incidents and crisis counselling. 

Appointments for face-to-face or telephone counselling can be made by calling 1300 361 008. 

The RACGP Self-care and mental health resources for general practitioners provides information for GPs and other healthcare professionals on:

  • self-care
  • strategies to support mental health and wellbeing
  • promotion of GPs having an independent GP of their own
  • where to access mental health support
  • supporting mental health in the workplace
  • accessing further resources (including support agencies, courses, reading material).

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. They can be contacted on (07) 383 4352 or via www.drs4drs.com.au 

Don’t forget your informal networks as well. Often, connecting with friends, family, or colleagues can be a great source of support. Connection is key!

Last updated: 26 March 2021