GPs put best foot forward on CrazySocks4Docs day

Matt Woodley

4/06/2021 3:00:12 PM

Australian healthcare professionals have taken to social media, showing off their crazy socks to support workplace wellbeing.

Doctors in crazy socks
Doctors across Australia stepped out in their craziest socks in an effort to end mental health stigma in healthcare workers.

For the fifth consecutive year, Australian healthcare workers have stepped up and thrown their support behind CrazySocks4Docs day in an effort to address mental health stigma in the profession.
Founder Dr Geoff Toogood this week told newsGP the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for doctors to don their ‘psychological PPE’, and said the support of their mental health underpins a safe healthcare system.
‘More than ever before, we need to look after those that look after patients in Australia and around the world,’ he said.
‘Our themes this year are tackling stigma, creating a safe place for doctors to seek help and a safe place to work, allowing time to recover and encouraging story telling for its power to break the stigma.’
To support GPs in coming forward to discuss any mental health concerns they might experience, the RACGP is calling for changes to mandatory reporting laws that act as a deterrent to doctors from seeking appropriate care.
It is a timely push for change, as nearly half of more than 1000 respondents to the first newsGP weekly poll identified ‘avoiding burnout’ as their main priority over the next 12 months, with the COVID-19 pandemic and national vaccine rollout making 2021 particularly challenging for GPs.
Moreover, 52% of GPs surveyed for the RACGP’s 2020 Health of Nation report recounted at least one negative impact to their wellbeing during the pandemic, with one in four reporting a deterioration in their mental health.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price, who also donned crazy socks to support the message, said doctors are not immune from mental health issues.
‘GPs have been on the frontline managing the pandemic and now the vaccine rollout. We need to make sure that they can take care of their mental health, too,’ she said.
‘Doctors have the right to receive confidential treatment like any other professional, without fear of repercussions to their medical registration.
‘The RACGP has long been a strong advocate against laws requiring mandatory reporting by treating practitioners because they discourage doctors from seeking the healthcare they need for fear of being reported.
‘These laws need to change now.’
The RACGP has been calling for exemptions for health practitioners from reporting doctors under their care since the inception of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) in 2009.
Minor amendments to mandatory reporting laws were introduced in 2019, along with updated guidelines aiming to reduce confusion surrounding requirements, but so far only WA has protected healthcare workers from mandatory reporting.

Dr Price also encouraged GPs to connect with colleagues on CrazySocks4Docs day.
‘This is our day to create a safe place to have a conversation about mental health and wellbeing, because we need to keep fighting the stigma around doctors’ mental health, and to make it okay for a doctor not to be okay,’ she said.
‘While there are differences in the scale of mental health issues and the pandemic is causing extra stress and anxiety for many, everyone has the need for a “mental health toolkit”.
‘Social connectedness, exercise, adequate sleep, avoiding over-work, taking time out for favourite activities, meditation, a healthy diet, your own GP, and even a pair of brightly coloured odd socks can all help.
‘As GPs we do need to look after ourselves. We also need to know when our interventions are not working, and when we need to escalate our personal wellbeing plan to include our GP, a psychologist or a psychiatrist – GPs should not be afraid to reach out for support if they need it.’
The RACGP provides members a range of mental health resources with strategies for self-care, and a free support program with telephone counselling.
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