Workload is causing 40% of GPs to suffer mental health problems

A survey has shown that 40% of GPs in the UK are currently suffering a mental health condition as a result of being overworked

According to a new survey published by mental health charity, Mind, two in every five GPs is currently experiencing a work-related mental health problem.

Over 1,000 UK GPs were questioned on their current state of mental health.

Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were highlighted as some of the severe issues GPs are currently experiencing. The report shows that GPs are working in increasingly stressful environments and need better support.

Sadly, less than half (45%) of respondents said that they would ask for the support of a colleague when experiencing a mental health issue in future. Just 30% said they would go to their practice manager for help.

Eighty-four per cent, however, said they would ask for help from family and/or friends, with 77% happy to talk to their own doctor.

Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at Mind, said of the results:

“People with mental health problems – and especially those working within healthcare – can and do make a valuable contribution to the workplace, but it’s really important that they’re able to get any support they need. Our research shows a lot of primary care professionals don’t feel comfortable talking to peers and colleagues if they’re struggling with their mental health.

“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 health care staff to talk about their mental health. Like anyone else, they need and should have support.”

The Royal College of General Practitioners also responded; professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the organisation, stated:

“GPs – indeed most healthcare professionals – are renowned for putting their patients’ health before their own – and, given the intense pressures currently facing general practice, this very high proportion of GPs living with mental health problems is deeply concerning, but not a total surprise.

“GPs work incredibly hard, often putting in 12-hour days in clinic, making upwards of 60 patient contacts a day, and dealing with huge amounts of administrative work. This relentless workload will inevitably take its toll on both doctors’ physical and mental health and wellbeing, however resilient they may be.

“Workload in general practice has increased by at least 16% over the last seven years, both in volume and complexity, but the share of the NHS budget our profession receives is less than it was a decade ago, and GP numbers are falling. The result is that highly-skilled and much-needed doctors are becoming disenchanted, exhausted, and burnt-out, with many being forced to take the drastic decision to leave the profession altogether.

“It’s a terrible irony that GPs, the gatekeepers of the NHS who spend their lives caring for others, are often suffering in silence about their mental health and don’t feel as though they’re able to reach out and ask for help.

“More needs to be done to solve the root cause of the untenable workload and pressures that GPs are dealing with, and that means more resources and more doctors and practice team members working in UK general practice.”

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