Beaudesert GPs go mad for crazy socks in support of mental health campaign

FLASH FOOTWEAR: Dr Alex Oram and Dr Michael Rice showing support for the Crazy Socks 4 Docs campaign. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
FLASH FOOTWEAR: Dr Alex Oram and Dr Michael Rice showing support for the Crazy Socks 4 Docs campaign. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

IN response to a campaign from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, doctors at the Beaudesert Medical Centre today wore their craziest socks to work.

Crazy Socks 4 Docs was started by Melbourne cardiologist Dr Geoffrey Toogood in 2017 to address mental health stigma among health practitioners.

Dr Toogood came up with the idea after he turned up for work one day wearing odd coloured socks. Rather than asking if he was okay, his colleagues at the hospital whispered about his "failure" to wearing matching socks. He started Crazy Socks 4 Docs - to make it okay for a doctor to not be okay.

Drs Michael Rice and Alex Oram said they were happy to support the campaign designed to raise awareness of mental health issues among health care workers as well as the wider community.

"The health profession is a high stress job with a high risk of suicide," said Dr Oram.

"Of all white collar jobs, health care workers have the highest rates of suicide."

Dr Oram said the crazy socks symbolised that doctors don't need to walk alone in terms of their own mental health.

"As doctors, we support patients with mental health issues day to day. We need to look after ourselves and let people know it's okay to talk about it."

Doctor Dev Kawol said he was proud to get behind the campaign at the Jimboomba Pharmacy Medical Centre.

"It's about mental health," Dr Kawol said.

"A lot of doctors don't like to go and see their GP.

"They don't talk about their problems. They think they are made of steel, and it is a sign of weakness.

"We wanted to have some fun as well."

Best foot forward: Jimboomba's Dr Dek Kawol in his crazy socks.

Best foot forward: Jimboomba's Dr Dek Kawol in his crazy socks.

The RACGP launched a new range of crazy socks to support the event this year, with proceeds to be donated to Beyond Blue, the mental health support service recommended by Dr Toogood.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said the RACGP was proud to help raise awareness of the mental health of GPs around Australia.

"The summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic have made this year particularly challenging for GPs at the frontline across Australia.

"It is essential that GPs and other health practitioners take care of their own health and wellbeing during this difficult time.

"We need to fight the stigma that persist when it comes to our mental health. GPs are human, there is absolutely no shame in reaching in out and asking for help.

"I would encourage GPs to use this event as an opportunity to check in with yourself and your colleagues - put on your crazy socks and support mental health for health practitioners around the world."

Dr Toogood said he was pleased to have the support of the RACGP to fight mental health stigma.

"I'd like to see GPs across Australia join in this year's event - take a photo of your crazy socks and share it on social media to show your support," he said.

"This is a time for GPs to reflect on their wellbeing and that of their colleagues and embrace vulnerability, and please seek support if you need it, help is there for you."