GP Depression – Where Can You Go For Help?

Becoming a doctor has often been seen as the pinnacle of professional achievement. The medical profession is generally held in high regard and working within it is assumed to be highly rewarding. However, rates of GP depression and mental health difficulties are on the rise across the UK. In fact, the working conditions faced by today’s doctors – from changes within the NHS to long working hours – are arguably leading to a mental health crisis among GPs.

With rates of stress, burnout and exhaustion leading towards GP depression, causing many of them to flee the profession, below we set out some of the factors exacerbating this crisis, and offer signposts towards possible solutions.

Workplace Pressures

GP depression, anxiety and other common mental health difficulties can affect anyone. With the superhero status traditionally afforded to GPs and others in the medical profession, GPs are often assumed to either be unaffected by mental health problems, or able to deal with them with little assistance.

But this needs to change. A study by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) found that more than 80% of GPs, consultants and other doctors knew a colleague with a mental health problem. Many factors have been cited for this troubling figure, including increased workloads, staff shortages, and poor sleeping patterns due to long-term shift work. Some of these factors have led to a spike in suicides among physicians as well as a third of doctors considering leaving the job due to stress levels.

Seeking Support For GP Depression

Many people working at different levels within the NHS are beginning to recognise that current conditions are starting to put GPs under excessive levels of pressure and support services have so far failed to keep up. Part of the problem is the workplace culture of many hospitals and medical practices, which in the past have tended to reward ‘high-achieving’ traits, which often include a tolerance for high stress levels. But with greater numbers of doctors coming forward expressing difficulties with their mental health, and an awareness that GP depression is on the rise, there is a greater recognition that more support is needed in order for GPs to deal with unyielding workloads without compromising their health.

Specific Support Services

In response to the need for greater mental health support, specialist services have begun to emerge. These include the NHS GP Health Service. An initiative of the Hurley Clinic Partnership, the service was launched last April with a budget of £19.5 million over 5 years. The service offers different types of support, including advice around addiction, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and group therapy, all of which are delivered by trained staff with insight into the difficult conditions GPs are faced with, though it should be noted that the service does not offer crisis support. It currently operates 8 am to 8 pm during weekdays and 8 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.

It’s Time For Other Ways of Working

With all of these mounting pressures making life increasingly difficult for those working in the health service, there is growing awareness that alternative working patterns are required to safeguard the health of GPs and to ensure that patients still get the treatment that they deserve. In addition to offering patients in the East Berkshire area more flexible treatment options, in response to staff shortages, EPBCOOH also recruits GPs seeking positions which offer greater freedom, flexibility and autonomy. If you are interested in coming to work for us, or just want to find out more, don’t hesitate to get in touch here or call 03000 243 333.