We know that doctors suffer emotional and physical ill health from time to time but that generally speaking, they find ways to bounce back with little to no assistance.
However, if problems are persistent, we recommend that you take action to restore your wellbeing.
Register with a GP who is neither friend nor family and who will ensure that professional boundaries are maintained in all decision making.
Though you will have your own thoughts on diagnosis and appropriate interventions, bring an open mind to the consultation and just ‘be a patient’.
An Irish study on GP trainees found that 57% had informally consulted a colleague regarding their health needs and 35% had referred themselves directly to a consultant, bypassing their GP. Furthermore, 92% had self-prescribed on at least one occasion. This is ill-advised as it results in compromised level of care.
Most GPs are very comfortable with treating doctors as patients and are registered with the HIP Network. You may contact the network to find the name of such a GP in your area if you have not already registered.
All public hospital employees in Ireland now have access to occupational health services. These are based on site in the larger hospitals or accessible off-site in some areas. Each is clinically led by a specialist / consultant occupational physician who provides a service with a team of nurses and administrative staff. All work closely with physiotherapists who can ‘fast-track’ access to treatment for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and also have access, directly or indirectly, to counselling support services, which may or may not be on site.
Occupational health deals with the interface between health and work but encompasses a broader remit of work and work environment (including psychosocial environment), health and ill-health as well as life and lifestyle.
A very strict code of ethics underpins occupational health practice, augmenting the Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics (7th Edition). Occupational health professionals are mindful of the importance of respecting confidentiality. They have a particular skill in communicating effectively with employers and managers on fitness for work issues without disclosing confidential health details.
The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a national initiative that offers confidential counselling and referral services to hospital staff experiencing psychological stress.
The EAP gives you access to trained, experienced counsellors who will help you to develop coping strategies in a non-judgemental confidential environment.
You can contact your local Employee Assistance Programme directly - self-referrals are accepted.
Some Employee Assistance Programmes offer a 24-hour helpline, depending on the hospital group.
If you contact an Employee Assistance Programmes, you can avail of prompt confidential referral to a counsellor independent of the Occupational Health Department in your hospital.
The Occupational Health Department in your hospital will only ever be contacted by the Employee Assistance Programme if there is a concern for your safety or patient safety.
The HSE’s National HR Employee Helpdesk went live on 4 January 2016. It is there to provide support to HSE employees.
You can contact the Helpdesk regarding benefits, terms and conditions of employment and advice on the operation of the grievance and disciplinary processes.
Contact the Helpdesk on 1850 444 925, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also on Facebook – search for HSE HR SAYS.
Any doctor, dentist or pharmacist who has a concern about a mental health or a substance misuse problem can receive confidential help from experts at the Practitioner Health Matters Programme.
The Practitioner Health Matters Programme operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded primarily by voluntary contributions and professional associations. It has replaced the former Sick Doctor Scheme.
See practitionerhealth.ie or call 01 297 0356.
www.mitss.org is a non-profit organisation that supports clinicians and patients who have been involved in clinical errors or adverse medical events. They also have good support tools for organisations hoping to implement support services.
The use of books for therapeutic purposes is known as bibliotherapy. Self-help books have been used in this way for many years and are now being recommended as a means of providing psychological therapy for people experiencing emotional and psychological difficulties. The effectiveness of bibliotherapy has been well established in clinical trials.
Bibliotherapy has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) UK as a useful start in treating mild and moderate depression, anxiety and panic and some other mental health problems.
Developed by Daniel Siegel and David Rock, the seven activities on the Healthy Mind Platter provide a ‘well-balanced diet’ for wellbeing.
As part of our Physician Wellbeing programme, we offer a range of courses and workshops, specially tailored for doctors, to help you manage stress and workplace challenges.
Through our Physician Wellbeing programme we are providing support, training and information to doctors at all stages of their careers.