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“You’re Not Supposed to Have Problems”: Societal Perceptions of Doctors

“You’re Not Supposed to Have Problems”: Societal Perceptions of Doctors

Note: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Your life matters.

A doctor participated in a 2011 study published in the journal BMJ and stated,“I was so ashamed that for years I never told any of my colleagues. I felt so isolated and thought I was the only doctor with a mental health problem.”

In today’s society, we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want, and when we want it. Quick fixes are desirable, and time is of the essence for consumers. Mistakes are not taken lightly, and patience is running low. These cultural traits bleed into the healthcare industry as well, placing more and more pressure on doctors to provide the outcome desired by the patient. While doctors are thoroughly trained and spend many, many years mastering their profession, they are still human – yet this very simple concept that defines the core of humanity is overlooked, especially when patients need answers right here, right now.

In the medical field specifically, value is often placed over one’s profession than their personal wellbeing. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are typically expected to work long hours and perform challenging procedures without much time to focus on their own mental and physical health. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly a third of all doctors have some kind of mental disorder, with many unfortunate stories of doctors dying by suicide because they were not able to seek the help and support they need.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Mental Health sought to explore doctors’ views about treatment for mental health; a total of 134 written comments were grouped into themes, and the following concerns were derived:


  • Confidentiality – many mentioned the fear of getting help at the same hospital they worked at, and being able to seek help in a place where they didn’t know anyone
  • Judgment – there was a major concern of being judged, along with feelings of shame and guilt for mental health issues
  • Impact on career – several doctors were considered about how seeking help might impact their career, almost as if they were afraid others wouldn’t view them as being able to “do their job properly”


Unrealistic expectations by both patients and doctors themselves negate any chances of optimal treatment and recovery from a mental illness. If you haven’t already, seek the help you need. You will best be able to provide your services to others if your own health is being taken care of.

If you haven’t already, speak with someone from a professional treatment center to learn more about programs to best suit your needs. Optimal recovery is possible, and you are not alone in your pursuit for happiness, health, and wellbeing.

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