Saturday, 24 October 2009

Mental Health issues and the Practitioner Health Programme [PHP]

This Department of Health document provides an insight into doctors who suffer from mental health issues. "Previous studies have shown the medical community to exhibit a relatively high level of certain mental health problems, particularly depression, which may lead to drug abuse and suicide. We reviewed prospective studies published over the past 20 years to investigate the prevalence and predictors of mental health problems in doctors during their first postgraduate years."[ See abstract]

Latest research suggested that doctors were in denial about their mental health problems.

"Research by the Royal College of Physicians, published in the journal Clinical Medicine, found that nearly three quarters of respondents said they would rather discuss mental health problems with family or friends, than seek formal or informal advice, citing reasons such as career implications, professional integrity, and perceived stigma of mental health problems.

The survey of over 3,500 doctors in Birmingham is the first of its kind of this scale looking at (non-psychiatric) doctors' preferences for disclosure and treatment in the event of becoming mentally ill.

Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents to the study would be most likely to disclose mental health problems to family or friends, rather than seek formal or informal advice. The most important reasons affecting that decision were issues such as career implications (33%), professional integrity (30%), and stigma (20%). Forty one per cent of respondents would seek informal advice for outpatient treatment, but 8% would either self-medicate or opt for no treatment at all.

The Royal College of Psychiatrist document on Doctors and Mental illness can be downloaded here.

A Doctors4Justice member kindly informed us of the Practitioner Health Programme. The website tells us as follows :-

The Practitioner Health Programme is a free, confidential service for doctors and dentists who have mental or physical health concerns and/or addiction problems and who live or work in the London area.

Any medical or dental practitioner can use the service, where they have

* A mental health or addiction concern (at any level of severity) and/or
* A physical health concern (where that concern may impact on the practitioner’s performance).

The BBC Report can be downloaded here.

Their contact details are as follows Our Help line is 020 3049 4505 or email us at [email protected]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For those of us who do not live in London there is NO similar service and we continue to experience lack of understanding, stigmatisation and discrimination. Perhaps services for the rest of the country can start appearing. After my experiences, I am quite frankly surprised that anyone would disclose mental illness to their employer. I had no choice. Others do. Justice means equal provision of services.