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J Ment Health. 2011 Apr;20(2):146-56. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2010.541300. Epub 2011 Jan 28.

Review of literature on the mental health of doctors: are specialist services needed?

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Academic Department of Psychological Medicine, Weston Education Centre, King's College London, London SE5 9RJ, UK.



Mental ill health is common among doctors. Fast, efficient diagnosis and treatment are needed as mentally ill doctors pose a safety risk to the public, yet they are often reluctant to seek help.


To review literature regarding risk factors and potential barriers to help-seeking unique to doctors; to consider the success of interventions by specialist services for doctors.


Key phrases regarding the 'mental health of doctors' were entered into internet searches and journal databases to identify relevant research. When key authors were identified, author-specific searches were carried out.


There are contradictory reports about the prevalence of mental ill health in doctors but it is generally agreed that doctors face a large number of risk factors, both occupational and individual; and help-seeking is difficult due to complexities surrounding a doctor becoming a patient. Specialist services developed specifically for interventions for doctors with mental health problems tend to show promising results but further research is needed.


The unique and complex situation of a doctor becoming a patient benefits from specialist services; such services should focus on early intervention and raising awareness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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