Crazy socks show support for our docs
03 Jun 2019
Currently on rotation in Nepean Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, Austin Lee is becoming increasingly familiar with a job that combines life-or-death responsibility with a demanding educational journey.
“Working as a Resident Medical Officer is a huge step up from being a medical student,” says Austin. “There’s suddenly a lot of pressure on you, and some junior doctors unfortunately don’t ask for help. Those are the situations where people can break down, both mentally and physically.”
Inspired to support his fellow clinicians, Dr Lee is advocating for people to join the ‘Crazy Socks 4 Docs’ campaign, a social movement founded by Australian Cardiologist, Dr Geoff Toogood.
The campaign encourages people to wear their most whacky and wild socks on the first Friday in June and share their pictures and messages on social media to help normalise conversations about mental health.
“Crazy Socks 4 Docs is a great idea because doctors’ mental health is often in danger,” says Austin. “We consistently face intense clinical situations, and patients can die in front of us at any moment. Unfortunately it’s unavoidable at all levels of medicine and we must look out for ourselves and colleagues around us.”
While all Health workers are supported by special programs and services to help maintain their mental and physical health, Dr Lee emphasises the simple value of a culture of positive and supportive relationships, which he is thankful to enjoy in his current rotation through Nepean Hospital’s ICU.
“Starting from the top and all the way to our junior level, the culture here is so warm and encouraging,” says Austin.
Creating a respectful and supportive culture in medicine is also the personal passion of Nepean Hospital’s Director of Medical Services, Dr Peter Thomas.
“Doctors health and wellbeing is critical to our ability to provide high quality clinical care to our patients and our community,” says Dr Thomas, who trained as an anaesthetist.
Nepean Hospital was an early adopter of state-wide initiatives that support the mental health of Junior Medical Officers (JMOs), including the JMO Safe Working Hours initiative and the JMO Wellbeing program, which Dr Thomas says demonstrates a “commitment to supporting and enhancing our medical workforce, especially when burnout or other mental health issues may arise.”
In addition to employee assistance programs which offer counselling for all NBMLHD staff, a number of other initiatives seek to provide doctors with specialised mental health support. These include JMO Health, the Medical Benevolent Association of NSW and the Doctors Health Advisory Service.
To help support Austin and health practitioners everywhere, don your craziest socks on Friday, 7 June and join the campaign on social media at #CrazySocks4Docs.
For ‘Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day’, our Doctors reflect on how they look after their own mental health, as well as support their colleagues.