June 1st. #CrazySocks4Docs. But not just for Docs only. This day is for nurses, dentists, pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians, speech pathologists, audiologists, respiratory therapists, anaesthesia techs, paramedics, medical students, veterinarians and all other specialties that work in the health care industry for patients.
Doctors are dying by their own hands. The overall physician suicide rate cited by most studies has been between 28 and 40 per 100,000, compared with the overall rate in the general population of 12.3 per 100,000. Overall, then, doctors are more than twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves. In the US alone doctors are committing suicide at the rate of one doctor a day. The causes are multifactorial: mental health, physical illness, depression, burnout, work stresses, etc. This is certainly occurring not only to physicians but also to others in the health industry.
Society places high expectations on Doctors and Health Professionals to be faultless. In reality, Health Professionals are merely human beings. Highly trained human beings overworked and enslaved by a high-pressure health industry.
This June the 1st, let’s elevate the conversation on the Health of the Health Care Professionals themselves. Wear odd socks to highlight the need for health care workers to care for each other’s health. Wear odd socks to start a conversation.
If you are asked “Why the odd socks?”
- To Remember the many Health Professionals who have died by suicide or in the line of duty.
- To Raise awareness of mental health issues among Health Professionals, and
- To Reshape the culture of the Health Care Industry with Hope and Humanity, so that health care workers are given the space to care for each other.
No, it has nothing to do with fundraising. It’s idea-spreading, conversation-starting & culture-changing. I know this all sounds idealistic to the point of being silly. The more we talk about this the more we can end the stigma, the more we can bring this dark subject into the light, the more we can create a culture of acceptance and support. Show your socks to those in Medical Admin. Good patient care is dependent on good carers. Investing in the health of the Health Care Workers is ultimately investing in the health of their patients.
Not compelled? At the very least, you can just have fun with some funky socks on June the 1st and tell others that you care about those whose vocation is to care for others.
I hope your socks will lead to fruitful discussions that would practically benefit the health of those Health Care Workers in your ward, clinic, operating theatres and departments. Ask each other: how can we make Health Care better for Health Care Workers and their patients? The solutions in my operating theatre will be different to the solutions in your ward or someone else’s clinic. The first step towards a solution is to start talking about the problem. Let’s get talking.
Dr Geoff Toogood @gdtoogood is the founder of Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day. #CrazySocks4Docs. Read his story here. My role is to elevate and leverage this message. I gain no financial profits or occupational benefits from promoting this message.