How doctors can look after their mental wellbeing during the pandemic
This year has been difficult for the medical profession, with COVID-19 challenging the healthcare sector in many ways. So, it is now more important than ever for frontline medical professionals to look after their mental wellbeing throughout the pandemic. This RUOK day we are sharing some suggestions to help doctors with resilience and wellbeing.
Addressing the stigma of doctors seeking help with mental wellbeing
Many practitioners are concerned with seeking help regarding their mental wellbeing. This can be due to the potential ramifications which might jeopardise their ability to continue working if an impairment (physical or mental) is identified, calling for a health assessment1. However, medical practitioners should be aware that the only mandatory reporting required according to AHPRA guidelines, is when an issue actually prevents a doctor from practicing safely.
Frontline medical professionals are going through a barrage of emotions, exacerbated by the current COVID-19 climate. This is also compounded by the stigma of asking for help, navigating APHRA guidelines, and dealing with high levels of stress of those around them during this pandemic.
For medical professionals to give the greatest possible care to their patients and themselves, there needs to be a support network around them that fosters resilience and places an emphasis on wellbeing.
Resilience in medical practice
Resilience is necessary to keep mental fortitude and bounce back from challenging circumstances, this is especially prevalent in a doctor’s medical career. A common misconception is that resilience is a personality trait, whereas it more commonly aligns with a skillset that can be learnt which helps you withstand troubling circumstances.
To build better resilience, look to those who are already in your community and build connections. The development of robust support networks provides different perspectives, different approaches to problems, and contributes context to issues you might have thought you were facing alone.
Lack of work-life balance for Doctors
Frontline medical staff have expressed concerns about the lack of work-life balance. Juggling between duty of care towards patients and your own wellbeing can be overwhelming at times. Building resilience is intertwined with wellbeing, and the same strategies to increase mental fortitude can lead to enhanced wellbeing.
Consider how not to burn the candle at both ends and become more mindful of your surrounds and self. Reminding yourself of tips and strategies to maintain a comfortable work-life balance is important, resources like this Beyond Blue work-life balance article can be key to keeping the strategies front of mind.
This RUOK day, take the time to check in with your own wellbeing, as well as that of others. Remember, it's ok to not be ok all the time, what is important is to know when to reach out for help.
If your concerns are about your career, please do contact us here at Wavelength, we're always happy to have a confidential chat about opportunities available in your medical specialty and also beyond, looking at divergent career pathways for doctors.
Or if you'd like to talk to a psychologist, Lysn provides convenient access to confidential consultations.
Please note that Wavelength and Lysn are not crisis services, if you need urgent support or help please contact 000, Lifeline, or Beyond Blue.
- The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law