Moving forward with COVID with Dr Caroline Walker, The Joyful Doctor

Dr Caroline Walker tailored this presentation for Doctors’ Health in Queensland designed to reflect on our experiences as the global pandemic of Covid-19 impacted our lives in different ways with a key focus on how we can focus forwards and maintain our wellbeing into the future. Themes of hope, gratitude and power of the human spirit were examined.

Through a personal narrative of depression and impostor syndrome as a junior doctor, the power of reaching out to a colleague who was not okay was highlighted. At any one time, approximately one quarter of doctors in the world, are experiencing
mental health problems, yet we struggle to come forward to seek help. We need to normalise mental health problems, allowing us to be compassionate human beings, to reach out to others, simple interventions can be powerful. Doctors need to feel they are not alone.

The medical profession is a family, we have a shared experience with Covid-19. We have all experienced emotions in response to this pandemic. Stress from trauma is normal and settles, grief and loss are a consequence of love and can be a roller coaster. Grief takes time to settle, months to years and this can be normal. Anger is a stigmatised but normal emotion and needs to be vented in a healthy way.

Guilt also should be embraced; we feel guilty because we care and are good people. Gratitude is powerful; always take the opportunity to see what we are grateful for. It is a powerful tool for human beings. Connecting with what is important as doctors. We need to sit with difficult experiences but also sit with what is important and what we are grateful for. Covid has provided a chance to stop and reflect on what is important in our lives. Deep self-reflection, opening up possibility of change and seeing possibility, energising connection to our deep resilience, permission to talk about our own mental health, the wellbeing of all health care professionals and share the shared experiences.

Think about your role modelling, permission and empower the doctors to have human emotions . We all have good and bad days, check-in, how are you doing today. Be honest. Stay connected, listen, allow yourself to be human and compassionate, keep advice simple. Doctors’ health is changing, and we are making strides and there is a theme of hope: The power of the human spirit.

About Dr Caroline Walker – Doctors’ Wellbeing Specialist and Founder of The Joyful Doctor

Caroline is a UK-based psychiatrist and psychotherapist, who became interested in the wellbeing of doctors after she struggled with her own mental health as a junior doctor.

Caroline is now an international role model for doctors with mental health conditions. She cares for an active caseload of doctors for NHS Practitioner Health and in 2017 she founded The Joyful Doctor – a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the wellbeing of doctors through coaching, webinars and workshops, online courses, events, and anti-stigma campaigning across social media. Throughout the COVID pandemic Caroline’s videos on the mental health challenges facing healthcare professionals have reached tens of thousands of doctors across the globe.

You can follow Caroline and the work of The Joyful Doctor here: www.joyfuldoctor.com

Dr Caroline Walker

DHQ wishes to thank our sponsors:

Avant Mutual by doctors for doctors
Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology
Doctors Health in Queensland
AMA Queensland
Belmont Private Hospital