Socks out for clinician mental health

3 minute read

Today is Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day, when doctors of all stripes are urged to check in on their own wellbeing.

Let your craziest, oddest socks loose for a very good cause: doctor’s mental health.  

Whether crazy socks can or should be paired with a pair of rubber Crocs is still up for debate at TMR. [No, it isn’t. – Ed.]  

This will be the sixth annual Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day, an event designed to break the stigma around mental health issues for healthcare professionals. 

The movement was started by Melbourne cardiologist Dr Geoff Toogood, who was inspired to act after accidentally wearing odd socks to work one day.  

Instead of asking if he was okay, Dr Toogood’s colleagues ridiculed him for being “crazy”.  

Thanks to social media, Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day has since gone not just Australia-wide but global, with doctors in countries like South Africa and Singapore getting on board.  

This year, the focus is on turning the conversation into action.  

“Yes, we need to keep talking about awareness, and we need to keep talking about advocacy, but we really need to turn it into tangible actions,” Dr Toogood told The Medical Republic.  

He urged doctors to think of at least one tangible action, big or small, that they could take to help change the way healthcare professionals view their own mental health.  

“[It could be] ‘I’m going to take action to change the workplace culture in my hospital’ or ‘I want to change the way doctors are managed by AHPRA’, things like that,” he said.   

“It can also be a simple, tangible action on a personal [level], like ‘I am going to take more time off’ or ‘I’m going to exercise’.”  

Even checking in on a friend or colleague, he said, makes a difference.  

This year, the RACGP has gotten in on the action and is even selling its own socks, with all proceeds going to Beyond Blue until June 12.  

“I encourage everyone to check in with themselves, their colleagues and loved ones. And if you need help, reach out for support; this could be reaching out to your own GP, or a psychologist or psychiatrist,” RACGP president Adjunct Professor Karen Price said.  

“And don’t forget to wear your crazy socks to support mental health for health practitioners around the world.” 

AMA Victoria, meanwhile, says the day will also be about remembering and honouring colleagues who have died by suicide and encourages doctors to use it as an impetus to change the culture of looking down on clinicians who seek help. 

“While Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day has traditionally been a ‘crazy’ fun day, recent suicides in the medical profession will see some doctors wearing black socks to honour a colleague,” AMA Victoria says.  

“Sadly, health professionals, including doctors, have a higher suicide rate than the general population.  

“We need to temper our Crazy Socks 4 Docs Day events by holding those who have lost their lives to suicide in mind.” 

If this article caused distress or if you are prompted to reach out for support, these services are available: 

Doctors4doctors crisis support hotline: 1300 374 377 

Lifeline: 13 11 14 

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 

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