New mental health charity to ask the question: You Okay, Doc?
How often do we visit our doctor for advice and guidance but who asks about the doctor's health?
Answering that question, and seeing British Medical Association statistics that 80 per cent of all doctors are at high risk of burnout - even before the Covid-19 pandemic - prompted Dr Daniel Gearon, a core surgical trainee in cardiothoracics at the Royal Papworth Hospital, to take action.
A crowdfunded Tough Mudder event raised £3,000 and, with some of Daniel’s own finances, You Okay, Doc? was launched by him and two other co-founding trustees.
Daniel, the CEO, said: “Hospitals have wellbeing services for their doctors and nurses - Papworth’s is very good - but we felt there was power in having something independent, that is away from the workforce.
“We are an independent charity set up by Chris Cherry, a psychotherapist, Derrick Dennard, an entrepreneur and retired CEO, and myself. We set up as a charity in August 2019 and then Covid-19 came and fast-tracked everything for us.”
You Okay, Doc? wants to create a community where doctors can meet and feel heard, develop mental health support, and facilitate research to culturally shift how mental health is approached.
Daniel, who has also embarked on a master of studies in entrepreneurship with the Cambridge Judge Business School, said. “In early March we were finishing our website and we upped our speed and tried to provide a platform to offer support, and we came up with The Huddle.
“It comes from the term used in the medical profession where consultants, anaesthetists, scrub nurses and the team come together before an operation to agree they are all on the same page. Every Thursday at 7pm we meet on Zoom. it’s a virtual environment where doctors can express and normalise their feelings with the aid of a psychotherapist. They are anxious for their patients but it’s quite rare to feel worried for your own life.
“The feedback was it’s a great supportive tool. We are going to modify it and put on a series of seminars where we have people talk about their experiences for an hour. Alongside the seminar series, we will have closed group huddles of 10 people which will form a group therapy. That will start on May 20.”
Doctors can sign up for the free events via the website. Daniel says the charity will develop its membership and donations are required to help build a supportive community.
One source of funding will come from a charity single by NHS Relief, a project set up by singer Beverley Knight and TV doctor Ranj Singh to support frontline NHS workers. Knight, Joss Stone and a host of other musicians recorded a cover of Lean On Me, the Bill Withers song, with proceeds going to NHS Charities Together and You Okay, Doc?
“Fifteen per cent of the funds are going to our foundation,” said Daniel.
For more details, visit youokaydoc.org.uk.