CrazySocks4Docs campaign goes global

Doug Hendrie

31/05/2018 11:56:37 AM

The Australian campaign targeting suicide and mental health issues among medical professionals has struck a chord around the world.

Cardiologist Dr Geoff Toogood started the CrazySocks4Docs campaign following his own battles with depression – and feeling he could not ask for help.
Cardiologist Dr Geoff Toogood started the CrazySocks4Docs campaign following his own battles with depression – and feeling he could not ask for help.

It’s the second year that the CrazySocks4Docs campaign started by Victorian cardiologist Dr Geoff Toogood has run – and the growth has been little short of extraordinary.
Support, Dr Toogood said, is streaming in from healthcare organisations in South Africa, Canada, the US, UK, France, Spain, Mexico and New Zealand.
The campaign itself is a simple one. On 1 June, medical professionals are encouraged to wear odd socks to highlight their support for people in their profession who are struggling with issues of mental health. Images can be posted to social media with the hashtag #CrazySocks4Docs.

Crazy-Socks-Day-Article-Hero.jpgFrom left: RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt show their support for the CrazySocks4Docs campaign.
The campaign comes after a string of suicides among healthcare professionals and students and amid rising concern around working conditions, isolation and burnout.
Dr Toogood told newsGP the campaign has resonated because it is based on real stories, told by real people.
He believes medical professionals might be particularly prone to mental illness.
‘You need compassionate perfectionists, but there’s an Achilles heel: the thing you have as a strength – thorough and self-reviewing – can cause the doctor problems,’ he said.
‘The very people you [want in healthcare] are those who are susceptible.
‘There’s been a need for a day like this for many years. This is a starting point – an awareness day – but it’s triggered all these secondary conversations and gone beyond what I thought it would do. It may start pushing things forward.
‘It was previously very difficult to talk about this.’
Dr Toogood came up with the campaign to shed light on the silent suffering of many medical professionals.
In 2013, he descended into severe depression as his marriage was ending and was soon contemplating ending his life. But, as a healthcare professional, Dr Toogood felt he could not seek help – because that would admit weakness and might risk his registration as a surgeon.
One day during that period, Dr Toogood came to work wearing odd socks and a colleague questioned whether he was sane. In truth, his dog had chewed up his other socks.
But the question stuck with Dr Toogood after he sought help and began to recover.
What if, he wondered, he turned that stigma – ‘Are you sane?’ – on its head? What if odd socks could be a way to show solidarity in what can be a competitive profession, in workplaces where showing weakness was anathema?
‘I took a photo, got others on social media to retweet it – and it just kept going,’ he said. 
‘This is only the second year. I hope it will grow globally and keep expanding.’
One of Dr Toogood’s patients came in proudly wearing mismatched socks this week. Another sign that people are listening.

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Jen   31/05/2018 10:02:25 PM

Awesome story!!!
Lifeline and other details should be added

Suganthi   1/06/2018 9:22:44 AM

True, how much time, how many Doctors felt that they are in same situation when a patient came for help with their mental health issues and mainly depression but the doctor felt helpless for himself or herself!

Nirmala   1/06/2018 10:21:41 AM

I am fortunate to have a group of like minded supportive GPs as friends and we meet regularly and communicate regularly on whats app . I would encourage others to have a group like ours and meet and discuss their issues regularly especially if you are isolated in a small practice /solo learn a lot from your friends who have similar problems to you.

Fedelynn M. Jemena   1/06/2018 3:56:55 PM

Is the campaign limited to June 1?

Dr B   4/06/2018 3:19:52 PM

Damn! I’m in a “ health retreat” or psych ward- depending on who’s asking- and feeling much better thankyou- and would have delighted in wearing odd socks on the 1st.. definitely next year.