Welfare of Anaesthetists

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The Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) recognises the importance of keeping anaesthetists well at work and for supporting those who need assistance.

Anaesthetists face a number of unique challenges as part of their work, which can result in poor mental health and poor general health. 

The stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide in the general public, combined with the value many doctors place on being the giver of care rather the recipient, can also make it challenging for anaesthetists to seek help when they need it.

There has been demonstrated progress made in supporting the welfare of anaesthetists over the past 20 years. The ASA provides wellbeing resources to members and encourages anaesthetists to implement long-term changes to their workplaces.

Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces

The Long Lives Healthy Workplaces toolkit is designed for anaesthetists to help create mentally healthy workplaces so they can reduce risks and stress load in the workplace, improve mental health and general wellbeing, build social connections among peers and develop action plans to support good mental health and the prevention of suicide.

The toolkit provides tips to support five strategies that will:

Improve the culture of medicine to increase wellbeing and reduce stigma.
Improve the training and work environment to reduce risk.
Improve capacity to recognise and respond to those needing support.
Better support anaesthetists and trainees impacted by mental ill-health and suicide.
Improve leadership, coordination, data and information on the health and wellbeing of our profession.

Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces is an initiative of the Welfare of Anaesthetists Special Interest Group and Everymind, with support from the ASA and The Prevention Hub.

We are pleased to present this toolkit to support better mental health and wellbeing for anaesthetists and anaesthetic trainees.

The development of this toolkit was guided by a national steering committee, chaired by Dr Tracey Tay (Specialist Anaesthetist and Director, Perioperative Service at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW). The committee included the following specialists from around Australia: Drs Prani Shrivastava (Anaesthetist, WA); Suzi Nou (Anaesthetist, VIC); Jane McDonald (Anaesthetist, NSW); Greg Downey (Anaesthetist, NSW); Shirley Prager (Psychiatrist, VIC); and Marion Andrew (Anaesthetist, WA). Other members of the Steering Committee include Jaelea Skehan (Director, Everymind) and Sally Fitzpatrick (Project Lead, Mental Health and Research, Everymind).

Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces - Presentation

A toolkit for anaesthetic departments

Members of the steering group have prepared slide decks for those who want to present the toolkit to their leaders or teams. There are explanatory notes below the slides.

Dr Suzi Nou has recorded a video of her talk to further inspire you!

Further resources

Peer Support Guide

Provides information to those setting up peer support whether for groups or individuals

ANZCAWellbeing

Provides services and initiatives underpinned by their Doctors' Health and Wellbeing Framework.

DRS4DRS

Support doctors and students to care for themselves, their colleagues and patients.

Black Dog Institute

For people who have a passion for making a change in the mental health space.

Lifeline Australia

A national charity providing anyone experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hr support.

Beyond Blue

A source of mental health information, support, and hope.

Victorian Doctors’ Health Program

A free confidential advisory service for all Victorian doctors and medical students

Doctors' Health Advisory Service Western Australia

For doctors in need of help or wanting to speak with a DHASWA doctor

AMA Victoria Peer Support Service

Represents all doctors across Victoria's diverse medical landscape.