The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has sought setting up of counselling centres and a 24x7 helpline in all medical colleges and teaching institutions to help students deal with mental health issues. The move comes days after Doctor Payal Tadvi, 26, allegedly committed suicide after facing harassment by her seniors at a state-run hospital in Mumbai. The IMA has launched an initiative named Doctors 4 Doctors (D4D) aimed at preventing burn out, address mental health challenges, reduce the incidents of suicide among residents and clinicians.
"We will achieve this by creating awareness of the issue and using tools for emotional well-being. We will provide training for self-help and offer D-4-D Free Help Lines to those in need," IMA national president Santanu Sen said.
As an umbrella organisation and the largest association of doctors, the IMA believes that doctors must care for all doctors, especially given the global picture of higher risk of depression and suicide among medical professionals, Sen said.
Globally, the risk is 2.5 times higher among medical students and doctors, with those in the age group of 24 to 37 years being the most vulnerable segment.
A study among clinicians in India has revealed that 45 per cent of the respondents scored high on emotional exhaustion with 87 per cent of the doctors scoring low on "personal accomplishments".
According to the chairperson of the IMA National Committee for Emotional Health and Wellbeing of Medical Students and Doctors in India, Nilima Kadambi, D4D will tackle physician burnout and mental health at a system level through changes in policy and training.
"It will offer a sustainable support system to bring about emotional wellbeing, robust resilience and coping capabilities among the medical students, residents and clinicians," Kadambi said.
IMA's D-4-D team has already held awareness and self-help workshops for medicos on emotional well-being and burn out in Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi, Surat and Cochin and soon will organise it in Mumbai and other cities.
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