Where to go for help and support for doctors' wellbeing

It can feel pretty lonely when we’re navigating difficult periods in our lives but you don’t have to face these challenges alone. There are lots of services that can provide support and advice, with many offering free, confidential help.

Help and support is available in your local region. Supervisors, college tutors, TPDs and Heads of Schools can offer support to trainees and deaneries and regional schools of paediatrics have access to a range of wellbeing services such as counselling, careers advice, supported return to work and mentoring. For other doctors, help may come from their local organisation where wellbeing leads will know what is available and can signpost to resources and services. There are also lots of national organisations and charities that can provide support and advice, with many offering free, confidential help.
Support with your mental health

If you are in crisis, feel unsafe, or as though you might be a risk to yourself or others, then contact 111/999, your own GP or attend the nearest A&E department as soon as possible.

Suicidal thoughts can be deeply upsetting and scary. This NHS link provides advice and helplines you can contact if you feel suicidal.

NHS Practitioner Health is a free, confidential NHS primary care mental health and addiction service. It specialises in treating healthcare professionals from all backgrounds. It is a self-referral system that can provide comprehensive assessments and treatment for a wide range of mental health and addiction issues.

BMA counselling and peer support services offers free and confidential 24/7 counselling and peer support line for all doctors and students. You do not have to be a BMA member to access this service.

Doctors in Distress is a charity that provides free, confidential, specialist-led spaces where healthcare workers can come together and share their experiences, talk and listen to others in a similar situation. You do not have to be unwell to access these.

You OK Doc? is a charity that provides a free six-week huddle programme for doctors and medical students, facilitated by an accredited therapist. It is a space to talk about things that are often not discussed, challenges, the effects of being a doctor and how we juggle this with life outside of work.

Doctors Support Network is a self-help group for doctors with mental health concerns, including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, bipolar affective disorder, psychoses and eating disorders. All doctors in the group have been troubled at some stage in their lives. There are regular meetings around the UK, a newsletter and an email forum.

Sick Doctors Trust provides a service for actively addicted doctors that is structured to provide an early intervention programme. The trust facilitates treatment in appropriate centres, arranges funding for inpatient treatment and provides advocacy and representation when required.

DocHealth is a self-referral service available to all doctors, UK wide, and aims to provide confidential, specialist-led support for those suffering with stress-related depression or anxiety.

Support with a disability

Disabled Doctors Network supports the welfare, rights and inclusion of chronically ill and physically disabled doctors and medical students. It provides a wealth of useful information and resources as well as access to a support network of people who have experienced the challenges of working with a disability.

Support for neurodivergent doctors

Autistic Doctors International is a growing community of autistic doctors that offer support, advocacy, research and education. They have formulated a useful framework with some first steps for more inclusive practice.

Autism Coaching is a coaching service for autistic individuals to help identify their needs, goals and what approaches may be helpful to support them. You do not need a diagnosis to access this service.

Support for finances

The Royal Benevolent Fund is a charity that provides a range of support for doctors, medical students and their families. They offer financial support, money advice and information and telephone support for people when they need it most.

The Royal Medical Foundation is a similar charity that offers financial support and assistance to doctors or their families who have little in the way of income or savings due to reduced circumstances, for example sickness, caring responsibilities or bereavement.

Support with bullying or harassment

Sometimes we can feel uncomfortable with the way we are being treated. We may not be able to articulate exactly why but you do not have to tolerate bullying or harassment at work.

The Royal College of Surgeons has some useful resources.

NHS Employers has an infographic with some of the statistics and key facts on the impact of bullying and harassment on workforce wellbeing, as well as some measures individuals, managers and organisations can take.

I'm thinking of leaving

Firstly, we are sorry things have got so difficult that you are considering leaving. This can be an upsetting place to be and reaching out for support is important. Firstly, allow yourself some time to rest, recover and recharge. It is hard to make big decisions when caught up in a whirlwind of emotions.

There are many ways to be a doctor and having the opportunity to explore these can be valuable. There’s a list of local points of contact at the top of this page which you may find helpful. Your local organisation or deanery may offer careers coaching or mentoring to support you with these decisions. For some people, leaving medicine may be the right choice. In these circumstances, it’s important to remember that doctors have many transferrable skills and that a career outside of medicine is possible.

Other useful resources

Through blogs and podcasts RCPCH Your Wellbeing allows you to hear from College members offering advice on wellbeing.

Samaritans is a charity that supports anyone, with branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges: support for doctors has a listing of organisations, services and websites which can offer help.

GMC (General Medical Council) online guide 'your health matters' provides the first step in this support, helping to provide timely information for doctors who may for health reasons be involved in the GMC's fitness to practise procedures. The GMC also has a listing of support services.

NHS Resolution - Practitioner Performance Advice is a service that provides impartial advice to healthcare organisations to effectively manage and resolve concerns raised about the practice of individual doctors, dentists and pharmacists.