Doctors in distress – The sudden deaths of four junior doctors in Victoria have focused national attention on the issue of doctors’ workloads and wellbeing. Yet mandatory reporting laws may be forcing doctors who treat other doctors for mental health issues to report them to regulators, writes Ann Arnold.
Dr Helen Schultz was an important contributor to my Background Briefing documentary, Doctors in Distress http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/2015-02-15/6083558
She spoke candidly but carefully about the recent unexplained deaths of some young doctors, and about her own experience of being a trainee doctor, and what she felt was inadequate support for the mental strain of being a medico, especially a junior one.
While respecting the dignity and rights of former patients and colleagues, she put her own career prospects at risk by recounting her experiences, and criticising the system in which she works, in the interests of improving it for those who follow.
The power of her storytelling cuts through any amount of policy and regulatory discussion.
Dr Schultz is clearly passionate about improving mental health services, and advocating for both patients and staff, and deserves recognition as a brave and independent commentator.
Ann Arnold 2016
Praise for “How Shrinks Think”
“How Shrinks Think” provides an overdue window into the world of the modern psychiatrist and goes a long way to dispersing stereotypes and the stigma that attaches to mental health professionals as well as their patients. The rising tide of awareness of mental ill health is mirrored by greater curiosity about what psychiatrists can offer and yet traditional stereotypes still inhibit help-seeking. With refreshing honesty Helen relates her personal experiences which illustrate how close psychiatry can come to being “The Impossible Profession” but also reveals the unique privileges and satisfaction that we receive as psychiatrists. She cuts through the smokescreen of political correctness to reveal the unacceptable state of public mental health care in Australia which is a result of grossly inadequate funding, stigma and discrimination within the health system in relation to psychiatry as a field and the patients, and the consequent and partly understandable timidity and weakness of psychiatric leadership in general. She rightly asserts that this is unacceptable and has to change. While she has followed a familiar pathway of talented psychiatrists to private practice where she provides expert care to people with significant needs, she has in a very responsible move continued to contribute positively to the careers of the emerging generation of psychiatrists through mentoring and deliberate boosting of their professional self esteem and confidence. This is a book which has been written with great clarity and a personal touch and it should be read not only by the general public but by medical students, doctors, and policy makers.”
Professor Patrick McGorry AO MD PhD FRCP FRANZCP
Executive Director, Orygen, 35 Poplar Road Parkville VIC 3052
Dr Schultz advocates for Doctor’s Mental health, and the impact of bullying and harassment of junior doctors in our health care system.
The Age 24 May 2015
The Age 3 Feb 2015 Julia Medew
At Their Mercy, 4 Corners ABC, 25 May 2015
Radio Appearance, November 2014, How Shrinks Think. ABC local radio with Kate O’Toole
The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Kim Arlington, regarding contributing factors to doctor suicides in Australia, 2 June, 2017
ABC “The World Today” with Eleanor Hall and Stephen Smiley regarding the proposed changes to Australia’s federal mandatory reporting laws, 27 June 2017
Opinion piece regarding the sudden cessation of medications and implications for detainees on Manus Island. Matilda Dixon-Smith 16 Nov 2017.
ABC “The World Today” with Penny Timms. The RACP exam debacle and effect on candidates, 20 Feb 2018.
ABC Radio National PM with Linda Mottram . Medical exam glitch causing doctors ‘extreme’ distress