Supporting regional doctors' wellbeing on Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day

This Friday, June 4, is Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day. Crazy Socks 4 Docs is all about raising awareness of the mental health of all doctors and health practitioners around the world.

You can join this initiative by wearing crazy socks, a small but significant token of appreciation and support that Monash University is encouraging everyone in their rural footprint to do.

Australians living in rural and regional areas know that accessing the right medical care can, at times, be a challenge. With a shortage of some locally-based medical specialists, patients know of the long drives into the city or long wait times.

Think about the other side of this equation - the rural workforce of doctors doing their best, and giving excellent quality care to a larger population over an extended geographic scope than their city counterparts. These doctors can often be under immense pressure and stress. These doctors underpin our rural health system and should be celebrated and supported.

Monash Rural Health’s Acting Head of School, Associate Professor Shane Bullock, is based in Gippsland. He said, “Monash Rural Health is proud to support Crazy Socks 4 Docs and encourage conversations about doctors’ and junior doctors’ health and wellbeing and help reduce the stigma around doctors experiencing mental illness.  We encourage all our students, their supervisors, mentors and the broader health workforce to wear crazy socks, share photos on social media with the hashtag #CrazySocks4Docs, and attend local events or stream into the day to start this important conversation.”

Associate Professor Janelle Brennan - a Urological Surgeon who grew up in Ararat and practices in Bendigo and Swan Hill - Monash Rural Health’s North West Victorian Regional Training Hub Director, says “Our students are on semester break at the moment. We hope they are taking time to recharge and look after their wellbeing, spending quality time with family and friends. We want our students to come back refreshed and ready for more high-quality exposure to hands-on medicine and learn directly from experienced Consultants.”
Monash Rural Health staff and students celebrate Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day
“We have distributed over 1,000 pairs of colourful socks to help spread this message far and wide. Bairnsdale Regional Health Service has the message on their website, Monash Rural Health Mildura hosted a morning tea with students last week before they went on leave.

She continues “As Regional Training Hubs, Monash Rural Health is here to support local students and junior doctors progress through medical training and highlight the varied specialist rural medical career opportunities available. We do this through initiatives such as Doctor What? Doctor Where? Stories of Rural Medicine in Victoria podcast and activities like Crazy Socks for Docs day - it’s important that doctors in the regions know they are not alone; they have networks and support.”

Ballarat local, Monash Rural Health medical student and Wildfire Student Health Club co-president, Meghan Taylor, says “We support students to access local health programs and peer support through our “phone a friend” program, and Monash Rural Health‘s endorsement of Crazy Socks for Docs and destigmatising this discussion  is particularly important with the uncertainty and restrictions over the last year and a half.”

Nathan Dalton, a Gippsland local and final year medical student based at Monash Rural Health Bendigo, says “I think this is a crucial day that helps tackle the stigma surrounding doctors' mental health. All too often we hear of practitioners who have suffered in silence for too long. Changing the culture surrounding doctors' mental health will be beneficial for all; doctors, their colleagues, the patients they serve and the wider community.”

“With the ongoing impact of COVID on our health workforce, now more than ever, it is important that we look after ourselves and our colleagues.  This is just one of the things we can do to support each other and to normalise conversations about mental health among students and doctors,” said Associate Professor Shane Bullock.

Learn more about the Monash Regional Training  Hubs.

If you are a medical student or doctor, there are a range of programs offering free, confidential assistance: