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Two in five GPs experience symptoms of mental illness

Around two in five GPs suffer from symptoms of mental illness, a new study has found.

The research, published by mental health charity Mind, follows a recent report which shows that GPs are working just 3.5 days a week due to the stress incurred by the demands of the job.

The charity said some 40 per cent of medical professionals have been diagnosed with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their career.

Despite this, many doctors feel that they are unable to talk to colleagues or bosses for support.

Across the board, doctors said they were far more likely to look for support with their mental health from friends and family (84 per cent) or their own doctor (77 per cent), compared to 45 per cent who said they would talk to colleagues and 30 per cent who would talk to their practice manager.

Likewise, just one per cent of GPs said they would reach out to professional bodies such as the General Medical Council.

Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said the charity is now calling on the Government and NHS to do more to tackle the work-related causes of stress, such as excessive workload and long hours.

“Too much pressure and other demands cause stress, which can lead us to become unwell, both physically and mentally. Those working in a GP surgery are no exception where long working hours and excess workload are often the norm. Primary care staff do a stressful job day in, day out, but too often aren’t getting the support they need. When they feel well and supported, they can provide the best possible care for their patients,” she said.

“Working in healthcare doesn’t make it any easier to talk about your mental health at work. In fact, concerns over fitness to practice can make it harder. It needs to be ok for healthcare staff to talk about their mental health. Like anyone else, they need and should have support.”

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