Raising awareness of mental health issues in health professions

Sophie Ootes, Gracie Xu, Ben Bravery, Claire Bailey and Matthew Garado.

14 September 2015

The mental health of health professionals was addressed at a grass roots level by Medicine and Nursing students from The University of Notre Dame Australia on Thursday September 10 as part of R U OK? Day.

Students from Notre Dame’s Schools of Medicine and Nursing held a joint event at the University’s Darlinghurst site to raise awareness and encourage people to strike up honest conversations about their mental health.

“It is also a way to check-in with colleagues, as it is widely known that health professionals suffer from above average levels of depression, anxiety and suicide,” according to Claire Bailey, a first year Medicine student with a background in psychology.

“We hear all too often about media stories involving bullying, intimidation, sexism and rampant mental health issues in hospitals,” she said.

“People can feel very alone and isolated when suffering from depression or anxiety, and I think this is especially the case among health professionals under pressure to care for others.”

Ms Bailey said one of the best things students could do was come together to have an open discussion about how they were coping and feeling.

“Establishing healthy behaviours and communication with our colleagues is just as important as everything else we learn as students of Medicine. This is the perfect time for Nursing and Medicine students to work together on a common problem,” Ms Bailey said.

Matthew Garado, a third year Notre Dame Nursing student, said R U OK? Day was an opportunity to strike up frank conversations with other students and chat through feelings of isolation, anxiety and self-harm.

“Simple things can have a huge impact on someone’s life and as a nurse I have the special privilege of sharing a simple act of kindness with a range of people. Knowing who you are and having the bravery to reach out is critical in medicine,” Mr Garado said.

R U OK? is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Gavin Larkin in 2009, who believes asking the simple question “Are you OK?” can make a big difference by encouraging connections which can assist in suicide prevention. For more information go to: http://yourstruly.org.au/#/browse/happy.

Theresa Kyne: Tel (02) 8204 4141; Mob: 0407 408 177; theresa.kyne@nd.edu.au