They look after us when we’re sick, but what happens when those who care for us are suffering themselves?

An industry conference in Brisbane is encouraging doctors to speak up on mental health.

Lily Nothling reports.


It’s the elephant in the room, and it’s hoped it’ll inspire doctors not to suffer in silence.

Dr Diana Khursandi, Welfare of Anaesthetists: “The elephant in the room is what people know but don’t talk about and mental health is one of those issues.”

With 2000 at the conference, the Brisbane Convention Centre set the stage for an open discussion about mental well being.

Dr Bridget Effeney says it’s a sensitive subject, but one we need to talk about.

Dr Bridget Effeney, Anaesthetist: “We have high pressure jobs, we have high expectations, it’s often a bunch of intelligent people who are ambitious.”

She says these factors put doctors in a high risk group, susceptible to substance abuse and suicide.

According to beyondblue, doctors experience significantly higher rates of psychological distress compared to other working professionals.

In a 12-month period, around one quarter of doctors reported having thoughts of suicide.

The case for upping awareness is stronger than ever, after a respected Brisbane doctor recently took his life.

In an email that went viral, Dr Bryant’s wife she didn’t want her husband’s suicide to be a secret, and that if more people talked about what leads to suicide, then there might be fewer deaths.

It’s hoped talking about the circumstances of his death will serve as a catalyst.

Dr Bridget Effeney, Anaesthetist: “Maybe from the tragedy some good can come.”

She lists safe hours, adequate debriefing and support from within departments, as part of the solution.

Lily Nothling, QUT News.