Doctors' health calls rise
There has been a surge in Queensland doctors seeking help for mental health and acute or chronic stress.
The Queensland Doctors' Health Programme (QDHP) runs a confidential helpline to provide advice and support for medical students and doctors, as well as community members concerned about a doctor or medical student.
The service says callers’ concerns about physical health increased four-fold in 2020, with a doubling in the rate of reports of mental health issues and acute or chronic stress.
Concerns regarding mental health and acute or chronic stress remain 50 per cent more prominent than before the pandemic.
QDHP medical director Jen Schafer says it is a worrying situation.
“What we see on the doctors' helpline is only the tip of the iceberg, there are many more doctors who are impacted by burnout who don't call us,” Dr Schafer said.
“Hundreds of doctors do call us every year to have a chat and that's OK, that's why we're here … don't feel you have to hold back.”
Forty per cent of calls to the QDHP are from doctors-in-training.
The Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ) is pushing for Queensland Health to fund its ‘Wellbeing at Work’ program for medical interns, saying it is needed now more than ever.
“Turning from medical student to intern, that is particularly stressful with the added responsibilities you have, the workload, that is really difficult for a doctor, it doesn't matter what stage of your career,” said the program's facilitator, psychologist Dr Ira van der Steenstraten.
“After the first five years after graduation, even more senior doctors and [those] in private practices … are at risk because they are more isolated at work.
“The AMAQ has put forward to Queensland Health to roll the program out to these groups, so we really hope that will be going ahead.”