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Barriers to mental healthcare for psychiatrists

  • Alfred White (a1), Purushottam Shiralkar (a2), Tariq Hassan (a3), Niall Galbraith (a4) and Rhiannon Callaghan (a2)...

Abstract

Aims and Method

To determine the opinions of psychiatrists on mental illness among themselves and their colleagues a postal survey was conducted across the West Midlands.

Results

Most psychiatrists (319/370, 86.2%) would be reluctant to disclose mental illness to colleagues or professional organisations (323/370, 87.3%). Their choices regarding disclosure and treatment would be influenced by issues of confidentiality (n=245, 66%), stigma (n=83, 22%) and career implications (n=128, 35%) rather than quality of care (n=60, 16%).

Clinical Implications

The stigma associated with mental illness remains prevalent among the psychiatric profession and may prevent those affected from seeking adequate treatment and support. Appropriate, confidential specialist psychiatric services should be provided for this vulnerable group, and for doctors as a whole, to ensure that their needs, and by extension those of their patients, are met.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

References

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Barriers to mental healthcare for psychiatrists

  • Alfred White (a1), Purushottam Shiralkar (a2), Tariq Hassan (a3), Niall Galbraith (a4) and Rhiannon Callaghan (a2)...

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Barriers to mental healthcare for psychiatrists

  • Alfred White (a1), Purushottam Shiralkar (a2), Tariq Hassan (a3), Niall Galbraith (a4) and Rhiannon Callaghan (a2)...
Submit a response

eLetters

Mental Illness amongst Psychiatrists

Alexis R Bowers, Psychiatry Registrar
10 November 2006

Dear Editor,

Can I congratulate you on publishing White et al’s (Psychiatry Bulletin, October 2006, 30, 382-384) recent article on mental illness amongst psychiatrists. Raising awareness and appreciation of psychiatric morbidity amongst fellow health care professionals is not only essential for improving patient care but also for the long term retention of staff.

Within your article you mentioned a number of factors that contributeto non-disclosure of mental illness (career implications, professional integrity and stigma). In addition those individuals who work in rural and remote locations where professional liaison amongst all allied workersis paramount can also lead to non-disclosure and self-medication due to lack of confidentiality and anonymity.

It is therefore imperative that all employing hospital trusts have overt policies in place for employees experiencing psychological difficulties. In my place of employment, given its semi-rural location, we have a policy in place that allows mental health workers to access an employee assistance scheme, private service providers and mental health services in other districts.

If a doctor feels that they are unable to disclose their own personaldifficulties within work place supervision an awareness of the numerous national organisations that are available can certainly act as a vehicle to receiving appropriate help and support.

During my own period of mental illness I received exceptional supportfrom my work colleagues. By talking about my experiences to peers I have found solace and also surprise at the number of people who have also had similar experiences but were too afraid to talk about it.

Although extremely unpleasant and disabling at the time the experience has enriched me as an individual and I personally feel that I am a better psychiatrist for it.

Declaration of Interest

None

References:

WHITE, A, SHIRALKAR, P, HASSAN, T, et al (2006)Barriers to mental healthcare for psychiatrists, Psychiatr Bull 30, 382 – 384

With Kind Regards,

Dr Alexis R BowersPsychiatry RegistrarConsultation-Liaison DepartmentMental Health UnitCairns Base HospitalThe EsplanadeCairnsQueensland4870AustraliaTel: +61 422 668 962Fax: +61 7 4050 6702
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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