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10 Oct 2013

World Mental Health Day 2013

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA encourages workplaces, employers, and employees to work cooperatively to develop and support working environments that promote positive mental health.

On World Mental Health Day, Dr Hambleton said it is important to provide workplaces that support workers with mental illnesses and equally important to create work environments that promote good mental health for all workers.

“The stigma of mental illness can lead to discrimination against some workers,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Research by the Mental Health Council of Australia shows that nearly one in four Australians have witnessed discrimination in their workplace relating to mental illness.

“The mental health of other workers can be affected by depression, stress, and anxiety if the workplace is poorly structured or unsupportive.

“This can lead to workplaces that are inefficient and unproductive, with lower employee participation.

“The impact of mental stress on workers is a serious and detrimental issue for the individual worker, their families and their employers.

“It has been estimated that the loss of productivity and absence of workers due to work-related mental health issues is costing Australian businesses more than $10 billion per year.

“Workplaces that are alert to mental illness and supportive of their workforce have higher productivity and greater staff satisfaction – everybody wins.”

Dr Hambleton said that the medical profession also needs to do more to provide supportive workplaces for doctors and medical students.

“The beyondblue National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students this week showed that large numbers of doctors are burnt out, subject to psychological stress and suicidal thoughts, and

are drinking too much alcohol,” Dr Hambleton said.

“These are all signs of pressures of work and stress in the workplace.

“The World Health Organisation defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.

“There has been a welcome increase in the awareness more broadly in the community of doctors’ health issues – including mental health – in recent years.

“This has mainly been a result of the medical community’s changing attitude to the promotion of health among our colleagues.

“There is a common belief in the medical profession that ‘we don’t get sick, we treat sick people and, besides, we are too busy to go to a doctor’.

“Thankfully, attitudes are changing and, driven by young doctors and doctors in training, we are seeing a greater focus among medical practitioners on their own health and the health of their colleagues, be it in hospitals or private practice.

“Work-life balance is so important. It could be music, it could be writing, it could be bushwalking, it could be spending time with your family - but it’s not all about work.

“The AMA has made the health and welfare of doctors a priority.

“As health professionals, we have a responsibility to ensure that programs exist to assist our colleagues to access quality health care when they need it.

“It is vital that doctors look after their health. We need to be healthy to offer the best care to our patients and to experience rewarding and satisfying careers,” Dr Hambleton said.


10 October 2013


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Published: 10 Oct 2013