Help for Me
There are a number of places medical students can turn to for support and advice about their mental health and wellbeing.
In this section you'll find information about:
DHASQ and QDHP
UQ Student Services
Australian Medical Students’ Association
UQ Union and UQ Union Abilities Collective
UQ Psychology Clinic
Psychiatrists willing to bulk-bill medical students
If you need help right NOW, please don’t hesitate to contact: Emergency Services (000), or Lifeline (13 11 14)
This guidebook provides medical practitioners with information and resources on strategies for self care as an essential element of their professional life.
It aims to encourage medical practitioners to recognise and discuss the challenges facing them, promote self care as an integral and accepted part of the professional life of medical practitioners, and assists medical practitioners to develop useful strategies for self care. – RACGP
Written by Grace Buckner
The Doctors’ Health Advisory Service (DHAS) has found that fewer than 40% of doctors have an identifiable GP. All medical students should have their own GP. Even if you aren’t “sick” you should endeavour to visit them at least twice a year. We are an at risk population for a number of reasons: the stresses of our degree, our personality types, and the unrealistic expectations of the medical culture. So just like you’d want your patient with hypertension or diabetes to catch up with their GP regularly, so should you!
Here are 7 reasons why you should have your own GP:
1. Crisis-care: Organise a regular GP while you are feeling healthy so when you feel like your mental and physical health starts to deteriorate, you have someone familiar to consult.
2. Self-diagnosis is dangerous: we all understand the perils of Dr Google – let’s not inflict this on ourselves.
3. We’re a high-risk population. Medical students and trainees have an increased risk for stress, burnout, depression, anxiety and poor self-care which can lead to chronic health conditions. This is compounded by a tendency to self-diagnose and self-criticise.
4. It’s completely confidential: concerns over confidentiality and perceived perceptions of weakness from colleagues can act as barriers to seek help. This can lead to dangerous and unhealthy behaviours to cope with stress.
5. Tailored psychological care and referral: a regular GP that knows you will be more likely to refer you to an appropriate specialist or psychologist that suits your need if ever required.
6. Consistency of care – we see the value of having patient information in one place, so lets apply this to ourselves too.
7. Foster a positive medical culture of self-awareness, self-care and empathy.
By practicing self-care, seeing a regular GP and seeking help for health issues early – we can maximise our potential to be caring, compassionate doctors.
More on DHAS…
Doctors' Health Advisory Service QLD (DHASQ) and Queensland Doctors' Health Program (QDHP)
What do we stand for? And how can we help? DHASQ literally stands for Doctors’ Health Advisory Service Queensland. Metaphorically we stand for a lot more…
Doctors – everyone needs a GP. Find yours.
Helpline – 24/7/365, anonymity, confidential, no charge.
Associations – our links
Spectacular events & conferences (Special, for medical practitioners and students)
Queensland Doctors Health Program: a wholly owned subsidiary organisation of the DHAS (Q), the ‘operational arm’ of our organization.
doctors find your own gp
We are often told as medical students to seek a GP, before things seem to go ‘pear-shaped’, but often it can be inconvenient, hard and involve copious ‘trials’ to find that doctor who really gets you, without embarrassment.
As such, QDHP are currently developing a back option for you, by recruiting a number of GPs with a special interest and additional training in the realm of medical student mental health who have kindly offered their time to support YOU.
To make use of this fantastic initiative, visit http://dhasq.org.au and under the ‘Docs-4-Students’ tab, use the username “uqms” and password “18uqms”. Also, if you have any GPs of your own that you would like to share, please suggest them to us.
Sometimes, we are after some support outside the realm of friends and family. Sometimes, we have concerns that we’d prefer to keep more private, or that require more experienced advice or support.
The QDHP helpline (07) 3833 4352 is a dedicated phone service which operates 24/7/365 for both medical students and practitioners in need, with confidence that on the other end of your phone line will be an experienced GP or specialist who is a veteran at helping colleagues deal with health or stress-related problems. Rather than providing treatment, their role is to assist by providing helpful advice and making appropriate arrangement for treatment within existing services.
Although the QDHP has been established with funding provided by the Medical Board, from Medical Practitioner Registration payments, great effort has successfully developed systems to ensure confidentiality and clinical operational independence from the Medical Board, AHPRA and the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO). This has been arranged to protect your confidentiality and privacy.
events & conferences
National Doctors’ Health Conferences have been running for many years now, and provide the opportunity to learn about how to improve and maintain the health of ourselves as well as our colleagues in a profession of many different challenges. Keep an eye out on the DHASQ website for the dates and registration for events such as the Australian Doctors Health Conference.
It is a good idea to develop good quality self management, self care skills which you can then use for the entirety of your medical career. So learn them now while you are in a good position to, and while your brain isn’t yet overloaded with facts like the 1000 causes of clubbing.
associations - our links
Offline: QDHP is liaising with all the different medical schools in Queensland, with an AMSA representative on the DHAS (Q) Management Committee to provide you with a voice when it comes to your health, physical and mental. Your Mental Health & Wellbeing Representative (UQMind Chair) is a great person to get in touch with or approach if you have any thoughts, opinions, enquiries or ideas you would like to raise – anything and everything is welcome. DHASQ is also in touch with AMSA, other DHAS organisations, Colleges, Medical Defence Organisations and various other medical groups and organisations, local, interstate and international.
Online: Through our DHASQ website, we have created a resource database – a ‘PubMed’ if you will – of various mental health organisations and useful information to have at your fingertips. We realise that, particularly with the time demands as a medical student, that you’d like to spend less time looking and more time finding useful information, including now well-known organisations such as beyondblue and Black Dog institute, and a number of others you perhaps are not as familiar with. So hop online and have a browse around!
In a nutshell
DHASQ and QDHP are non-for-profit services staffed by practitioners who provide their time, expertise and service at no cost, and supported by various donations and contributions, including support from the MBA. From its founding in 1989, it has focused on assisting medical colleagues in times of difficulty in a quick, easy and accessible fashion.
It is easy to forget but it is important we look after ourselves with the same care and treatment we strive to give our patients – for this will make us happier and healthier doctors, and optimal patient care will follow.
UQ Student Services
Student services at UQ offer free counselling, workshops, and events that you could utilize in looking after your mental health and wellbeing.
Call the UQ Counselling and Counselling Line 1300 851 998 anytime of the night and day for crisis and support. To book a counselling appointment, please call during business hours (9am-5pm).
Student services have a counsellor and advisor who is employed specifically to support medical and dental students at UQ. You can email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Student Services at St Lucia (07) 3365 1704 – making sure to tell them you’re a med student and want an appointment with the Medicine/Dentistry counsellor at Herston!
UQ Union and UQ Abilities Collective (UQUAC)
The UQ Union has the Student Help on Campus (SHOC) service, with helpful (free) stuff like financial support, legal support, clubs and societies and upcoming events! SHOC does not have a counselling service, but you can book an appointment with them or message them on Facebook to discuss your personal welfare and wellbeing. www.uqu.com.au/welfare
The UQU Abilities Collective is positive, open, and caring community for UQ students who identify as having a disability, chronic illness, or mental illness. Check out their Facebook page to stay up to date with upcoming events!
Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA)
AMSA has created a specialized guide for medical students “Keeping your Grass Greener” that we’d highly recommend!
AMSA provides a lot of opportunities to engage with other medical students across the country, and is the peak medical student representative body advocating for our needs! Make sure to like their Facebook page and keep an eye out for upcoming events!
The AMSA Mental Health Campaign offers heaps of links, articles and helpful advice – check out their Website and like their Facebook page! The AMSA Humans of Medicine Campaign is a great initiative that seeks to break down the stigma towards mental illness, and celebrate the humanness of medical students!
UQ Psychology Clinic
The UQ Psychology Clinic offers rebated ($25 per hour for full-time students) psychotherapy sessions, group therapy and couples therapy at their clinic on St Lucia Campus. This is a private practice that does not require a mental health care plan to access.
The UQ Psychology Clinic also offers a fantastic mindfulness program at St Lucia. Details in the flyer below:
written by bryn rohdmann
What is the Better Access initiative?
The Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative aims to improve outcomes for people with clinically diagnosed mental disorders through providing Medicare rebates for selected evidence based treatments.
Rebates are available for up to 10 individual and 10 group services per year, provided by professionals like: general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists.
Better Access Fact sheet for patients
How to get a mental health care plan?
1. Book in to see your GP
GP’s are fantastic! If you do not have a regular GP than you might find recommendations from friends useful, or you can search for GPs who have a special interest mental health (or even doctor’s health). Many practices encourage booking a long (or double) appointment if it is regarding mental health.
2. Prepare to see your GP
It can be daunting to discuss how you are feeling to a health professional. Some may find writing a list of things to discuss with the doctor helpful in order to make the appointment easier and more productive. This list can contain any symptoms you’ve had, feelings or emotions you have been experiencing, any key personal information you would like to share, and any questions you would like to ask.
3. At the GP
If the GP makes a diagnosis of a mental disorder (which can be as simple as an ‘acute stress reaction’) a GP Mental Health Care Plan can be put into place. This will involve a general assessment, doing a short survey, and making a plan. This plan will involve making goals together, and discussing what treatment options would be best for you. Referrals to suitable professionals for further treatment will be made, usually in groups of 6 sessions.
4. Follow up
The nature of the goals and treatment plan will affect the type of service/s you are referred to and how you might best use them. However, feel free to find what works for you, and feel free to request a follow up appointment with your GP to make sure you are getting the best treatment for your needs.
What are the implications of getting a mental health care plan?
You will have access to mental health services with a Medicare rebate; and should be congratulated for taking care of your wellbeing.
Having a mental health care plan, or a mental illness, or seeking any type of mental health treatment, does not and will not affect your career as a medical professional. The only time a physician will be notified to the health ombudsman is if they are working under the influence of substances, they have a condition which puts their patients at risk of substantial harm, or they are having sexual relations with their patients.
Remember that anything you discuss with a health professional is confidential.
What will a psychologist do?
A psychologist will use a particular style of psychotherapy with you (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, psychodynamic therapy etc.) It is advisable that you have a think about which therapy might be helpful for you, for example: are you having problems with intrusive or anxiety-provoking thoughts (CBT)? do you like mindfulness and meditation (ACT)? are you interested in your relationships and your role within those relationships (psychodynamic)? Click here for more info
A psychologist will want to talk about your thoughts and feelings, and support you to experience and accept your emotions. This is an important but difficult process which is largely ignored by our general society. Emotions are a fundamental and completely natural part of being human, but sometimes they can be difficult to deal with alone.
Not all psychologists are the same. You may not “click” with the first psychologist you meet, so it may take a few visits before you find one you like (try not to get discouraged!) You’re paying for a very important service, so shop carefully! The APA has a database where you can search for psychologists in your area and see their interests
Press the button below to access more info you may find useful