Support for members
Caring for yourself and colleagues during COVID-19
It is more important than ever that you take time to care for yourself as well as take the opportunity to debrief with your colleagues.
The COVID-19 pandemic will place increased pressure on all doctors, including psychiatrists and trainees, with increased patient numbers and needs, changes to standard practice operations and activities, responding to fear and anxiety in the community, and the constant need to stay up to date as the situation evolves.
The College will continue to update and release new wellbeing resources during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as continue to provide its existing services and information that can assist with your own wellbeing, or if you are facing personal or health challenges.
Here are some helpful tools available for you right now:
- The College’s new Keeping Yourself Well guide [PDF; 903 KB] offers members practical support and
strategies to look after themselves and each other. From stress, to burnout, to self care and looking after each other, Keeping Yourself Well features useful information for psychiatrists and trainees at all stages of their careers.
- Read our Financial support during COVID-19 guidelines for Australia and New Zealand which summarises available financial aid from the government
- Your Peer Review Groups provide a vital professional space to discuss challenges in your professional life, share concerns, ideas and options to manage rapidly changing practice needs during the pandemic. Although there are currently restrictions on meeting face-to-face, we recommend that you stay in touch as much as possible, including via virtual group meetings.
- The Online discussion forums have been re-opened during the COVID-19 pandemic to give members an opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer support and discussion, ask questions of each other, and share resources or information.
- The Member Welfare Support Line is available for support on any issue that affects your physical or mental wellbeing. This is a free and confidential support service available to all members, with calls answered by the Support Manager. Access the service by calling 1800 941 002 (AUS) or 0800 220 728 (NZ) from 8.30am–5pm AEST Monday–Friday (or call out of hours and leave a message to receive a call-back). You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Find a Psychiatrist service will help you to connect with a psychiatrist who specialises in doctors’ health and wellbeing. Visit the College’s Find a Psychiatrist database, and under ‘Has experience with’, select ‘Doctors, psychiatrists or medical students’.
- Doctors’ health advisory service helplines are available throughout Australia and New Zealand. Staffed by doctors with expertise in treating other doctors, these helplines provide 24/7 confidential, anonymous assistance over the phone with both health and personal issues. Visit the DRS4DRS website for more help and advice.
- Our top 5 self-care tips for psychiatrists provide basic essential advice that all psychiatrists can put into practice.
- Support your physical and mental wellbeing with videos and e-health programs. Resources include lifestyle, self-care and rural e-learning modules for members, plus free e-health programs This Way Up, Mood Gym and myCompass.
- Support for trainees and SIMGs offers a range of support options for those on the pathway to Fellowship. See what services and supports other trainees and SIMGs have found useful in the ‘Staying on track’ video.
- Support for rural and remote psychiatrists lists specialised support services for psychiatrists working in rural or remote settings, together with pathways to peer support networks of people facing similar challenges.
The College will be rolling out more information and resources to support you during this difficult time, and is committed to supporting you every step of the way.
Where to get help
If you are a psychiatrist, trainee or SIMG facing health or personal issues, you are not alone.
Many doctors face challenges such as depression and addiction, although few speak about them publicly.
The RANZCP is committed to supporting any of our members experiencing difficulty.
There are many ways to seek help that are anonymous and confidential. This page lists some good places to start.
What do you need assistance with?
Help with health or personal issues
Is it an emergency?
If you are at risk of harming yourself or others, you should get help immediately.
- Call 000 in Australia or 111 in New Zealand.
- Visit the emergency department at your nearest hospital.
- Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia or 0800 543 354 in New Zealand.
RANZCP Member Welfare Support Line
Confidential advice is available to all members of the RANZCP. Call for support on any issue that affects your physical or mental wellbeing.
.More about the support line
Doctors' health advisory service helplines
Doctors’ health advisory service helplines are available throughout Australia and New Zealand. These are staffed by doctors with expertise in treating other doctors, and can provide you with 24/7 confidential, anonymous assistance over the phone for both health and personal issues. Visit the DRS4DRS website for more help and advice, or via the details provided below.
Employee assistance programs
All Australian and New Zealand hospitals have an employee assistance program (EAP) that offers free, confidential consultations to employees. Look for the details in your induction pack or staff common area. Otherwise, your hospital’s human resources department can provide them to you.
Many medical indemnity insurers offer 24-hour support for medicolegal issues.
Financial problems are more common among doctors than you might expect. Rest assured that you are not alone, and that there are ways to obtain assistance.
Members in financial distress can apply to the RANZCP for an exemption or reduction in subscription fees or to set up a payment plan.
Your medical indemnity insurer may be able to offer useful advice or support if your financial hardship is caused by a medicolegal matter.
Medical benevolent associations in New Zealand and some Australian states can offer short-term financial assistance to doctors in need. Some can also help with providing financial advice.
The RANZCP Code of Ethics states that 'Psychiatrists have a duty to attend to the health and well-being of their colleagues, including trainees and students'.
The RANZCP can offer confidential advice via our Member Welfare Support Line if you are concerned about the health of a psychiatrist or trainee.
Your local doctors' health advisory service can offer anonymous, confidential advice to the family members of doctors, or to doctors concerned about a colleague.
The Heads up website lists practical suggestions on how have a conversation with a colleague you’re concerned about.
If you have good grounds to believe that another doctor's ill health is a serious risk to themselves or their patients, you may need to consider notifying the relevant authority. Refer to the Medical Board of Australia's Guidelines for mandatory notifications or the Medical Council of New Zealand's Health concerns about a doctor page for more information.
Peer support should be a safe and supportive space to discuss challenges in your professional life and how these impact you.
There are many ways of accessing peer support:
- Balint groups
- peer review groups as part of the RANZCP CPD program
- peer support groups run informally in workplaces or other settings (ask around your networks for opportunities to join a group)
- network groups run by the Mental Health Professionals' Network (Australia)
- regular events for members run by RANZCP Faculties, Sections and Networks or local offices
- doctor's associations such as;
If you feel you would benefit from ad hoc support from a more senior colleague, contact the RANZCP head office or local branch chair with your request.