Kooyong Group and Australians for Mental Health partner to support suicide prevention services for doctors

Kooyong Group is committed to supporting the medical community wherever possible.

With that end in mind, Kooyong Group has renewed its engagement with Australians for Mental Health (AFMH). As part of a new three-year partnership, Kooyong Group will deliver events and funding to combat the unique mental health challenges that doctors face.

In 2019, Beyond Blue published an analysis that paints a distressing picture. Doctors reported substantially higher rates of psychological distress and suicidal thoughts compared to the general population.

21% of doctors reported having been diagnosed or treated for depression during their lives, while 6% of doctors had a current diagnosis. Most concerningly, 2% of doctors reported that they had attempted suicide.

Given the well-documented rise of mental health issues in all members of the community because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kooyong former CEO James Ostroburski said that driving action and awareness cannot wait.

“By renewing our partnership with AFMH, Kooyong Group will drive awareness of this issue and help to build the support programs that doctors urgently need. Doctors are under more pressure than ever. They live unique and stressful lives, and for too long, have experienced poorer mental health outcomes than the general population,” he said.

AFMH Executive Director Professor Pat McGorry AO said: “Australians for Mental Health warmly welcomes this dynamic partnership which will boost support for our inspiring doctors and health professionals around Australia and mobilise action in support of a fair deal in healthcare for people with mental illness.”

As well as delivering a multi-year grant to support AFMH’s life-changing advocacy work, Kooyong Group will provide capacity-building and fundraising support.

In particular, Kooyong Group will support AFMH to strengthen Hand-n-Hand, a free and confidential peer support service designed specifically for health professionals.

A co-hosted series of morning teas across Australian hospitals throughout 2021 will help to drive donations to AFMH and Hand-n-Hand. Each event will:

  • Focus on how doctors can get critical, non-judgemental mental health care
  • Feature various guest speakers, from experts in mental health to families of doctors who have been impacted by suicide
  • Introduce doctors to the peer support initiatives offered by Hand-n-Hand
    Raise awareness of the need for new mental health architecture in medical institutions

The first event is scheduled to take place on 5 May in Townsville, where a doctor was tragically lost to suicide last month. The event will be a mental health action and awareness lunch at the Townsville University Hospital, with a live stream to the Cairns Hinterland Hospital and a hospital in Mackay (location to be announced).

Subsequent events will be announced in the coming months, with many to coincide with key dates. A flagship event, proposed to take place on World Mental Health Day in October 2021, will focus on the mental health experiences of health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A panel discussion will feature AFMH Executive Director and former Australian of the Year Professor Pat McGorry AO and Hand-n-Hand founder Tahnee Bridson, alongside other respected medical professionals.

Kooyong Group will work behind the scenes with its partners to add value to this partnership.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised herein, crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day in Australia: Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636;
Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.