The BMA has launched a UK-wide survey into doctors and medical students’ mental health in an effort to improve the support available to NHS staff.
The online study was launched by BMA president and consultant psychiatrist Dinesh Bhugra today to coincide with World Mental Health Day.
Professor Bhugra described the survey as a timely initiative given the immense pressure that many staff working in the health service now faced.
In a message to BMA members, he said the survey, which is open to all doctors and medical students, aimed to develop a greater understanding and insight into the scale of mental health issues among the medical workforce.
He said: ‘It is clear that doctors’ health is being affected by the ever-increasing demands of their work – morale is low, stress levels have increased, burnout is an all-too-real risk.
‘The same goes for medical students, who have to deal with stress, sleep deprivation, exposure to traumatic clinical situations and debt.
‘The findings of this survey will allow us to work with the NHS to ensure services deliver the right support, based on your feelings and experiences.’
In addition to the survey, the BMA has also published a report into how employers can best support the health and well-being of staff in the workplace.
The report highlights existing studies which suggest that up to 20 per cent of doctors will experience depression during their careers, while a quarter of NHS staff sickness absence relates to mental health.
Among its recommendations, it calls on employers to ensure that all staff have access to free and comprehensive, specialist-led occupational health services, and to ensure such services are consistent and easily accessible.
It also calls for better funding and support for doctors with disabilities, and for trusts to have appropriate health and well-being policies in place and to encourage staff to involve themselves in the design and implementation of such plans.