1 in 4 doctors ‘have suffered mental health issues’ as stresses of the job can lead to depression, anxiety, and drinking problems
- Survey finds 27 per cent of medics are diagnosed with mental health condition
- Two in five are facing psychological and emotional problems, including stress
- Experts say pressure of working in NHS is fuelling ‘alarming mental health crisis’
A quarter of doctors and medical students have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, it was revealed yesterday.
Stresses of the job have pushed many into depression, anxiety and problem drinking.
A survey of more than 4,300 medics found 27 per cent have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Two in five are facing psychological and emotional problems, including stress, depression, anxiety and emotional distress.
The stresses of working in the healthcare industry can lead to depression, anxiety, and even a drink problem [File photo]
Women struggle more than men, while consultants, GP partners and those working more than 51 hours a week are most likely to blame their job for their health problems.
The British Medical Association, which carried out the research, says the pressure of working within the NHS is fuelling an ‘alarming mental health crisis’.
Its president, Professor Dinesh Bhugra, said: ‘While there is no denying that being a doctor is a challenging and demanding role, too often the line of what can be considered routine pressures of the job has most definitely been crossed and the consequence is a workforce that has been pushed to literal breaking point.’
The NHS is the largest employer in Britain, with 1.7 million staff. But 80 per cent of doctors and medical students are at high or very high risk of burnout, driven mainly by ‘exhaustion’, and that rises to 91 per cent for junior doctors.
A third of those surveyed admitted using alcohol, drugs or self-medication to cope.
Dr Thomas Kitchen, an anaesthetist specialist trainee, who works at Health Education and Improvement Wales, struggled with his mental health after a colleague’s suicide.
He said: ‘As doctors, our daily interactions with patients and their families, who are often at the height of their own emotional distress, can take its toll.
‘We strive to do our best for our patients, whether that’s in training, in practising medicine or delivering care but we are often under-prepared for the everyday emotional experiences of the job, never mind when these experiences become exceptional.’
A separate study, published by the BMA and Swansea University, said doctors often work when they know they are unwell.
One respondent said: ‘I thought it would be a complete failure to have to have time off work.’ The BMA said support must be publicised and available, as nine per cent reported having asked for help without getting it.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘Our upcoming People Plan will lay out the actions we will undertake to overhaul the mental health and wellbeing support on offer for all NHS staff.
‘Alongside the BMA, we recently announced improvements to shared parental leave arrangements for doctors – part of our commitment to improve working conditions to make the NHS an employer fit for the 21st century.’