Staff get loud for doctor wellbeing day

Group of staff in colourful shirts with their hands in the air
October 20, 2017

Today, Fiona Stanley Hospital staff donned their ‘loudest and brightest’ shirts in support of international doctor’s wellbeing day.

Loud Shirt Friday (external site), an inaugural event held nationally by doctors-in-training, aims to shine a light on mental and physical health issues among doctors.

With junior doctors having substantially higher rates of psychological distress and attempts at suicide compared to the general community, the entrenched stigma is the biggest barrier stopping doctors from seeking support.

As Stanley Medical Officers’ Society (SMOS) (external link) President, Junior Medical Officer (JMO) Dr Kiran Narula said there is a fear among junior doctors that admitting you have a mental health issue means you are less competent and capable than your colleagues.

“You’re showing yourself to be vulnerable and admitting that you can be a patient when you’re supposed to be a doctor. With that there is a genuine concern that you’ll have restrictions placed on you,” Kiran said.

The mental and physical wellbeing of doctors has been in the national spotlight after many tragic losses, with the general work experience for Australian doctors categorised as stressful and demanding.

Across Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group (FSFHG), the newly established Doctors Welfare Group will implement solutions to reduce burnout and stigmatise attitudes.

“It’s important we ensure that staff experiencing significant depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts know where to turn for help and support,” Kiran said.

“It has to be acknowledged that the problem isn’t you, it is the environment that you are in or a disease process.”

Loud Shirt Friday represents a day full of colour, whilst not losing sight of the sombre realities faced by many medical professionals.

FSFHG A/Executive Director Janet Zagari said by coming together to support each other, we raise awareness of our collective mental health issues and what we can do to change the circumstances that lead to these tragic events.

“Maintaining good mental health is everyone’s responsibility. This is an important issue that doesn’t just affect doctors; everyone can be impacted by mental health issues,” Janet said.

“As medical professionals we treat our patients with care and compassion, but sometimes we don’t treat our colleagues with the same courtesy.”

For more information, please contact the Stanley Medical Officers’ Society (SMOS).