Our Story

Doctors in Distress was founded by Amandip Sidhu after the tragic death of his cardiologist brother, Dr Jagdip Sidhu, in 2018. Jagdip worked to the point of burnout and felt that he only had one way to escape his suffering. He didn’t feel he was able to ask for help.

Being unwell does not sit well for doctors. Since antiquity they have been encouraged to ‘heal thyself’ and the belief that they can do this, and that they are somehow impervious to illness runs deep and creates a powerful barrier to seeking help. Of course, being human means that doctors suffer from the same illnesses as the patients they treat.

Doctors do not wear magic white coats, and whilst protective personal equipment (PPE) might have offered some protection from Covid-19, doctors were still amongst the first to become infected and suffer from the consequences of the infection.

Amandip Sidhu
This is a feeling that is extremely common in the medical profession. There is a very prevalent stigma around asking for help. Healthcare workers often feel it’s a sign of weakness and demonstrates a lack of resilience.

We have often heard that staff feel that they will not progress in their career if they ask for help.

As a consequence, burnout and suicide rates are much higher amongst doctors than in the general population. Current statistics show that one doctor takes their life roughly once every three weeks. Doctors are two to five times more likely to die by suicide than the general population and female doctors are two and half to four times more likely to take their lives than their male counterparts.
This was a problem before the pandemic. There is no doubt that the covid pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues within the profession. Stress, anxiety and symptoms of burnout are at an all time high and a large percentage of healthcare professionals are now saying they will leave the profession. However, we need to ensure that healthcare workers continue to get the mental health support they deserve now and well into the future.
We provide support to all healthcare professionals through confidential support groups facilitated by a trained professional. These give healthcare professionals the space to share, talk and be listened to. These groups are not therapy but give space for people to release the pressures they may be facing.

Previous experience shows that therapeutic spaces such as these help to reduce burn-out and improve access to other support systems. They also allow the doctor to become the patient, something that typically doctors have found particularly difficult. Sharing helps create a bond between peers and assists doctors to develop self-awareness and insight as well as showing them they are not alone.

This is not just the case for doctors. We have found that with our groups for nurses, the benefits have been the same with participants describing their relief at being listened to and understood.

Doctors In Distress: A Timeline

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2018

Amandip Sidhu’s brother Jagdip Sidhu dies tragically by his own hand.

His brother Amandip starts Doctors in Distress and is invited to No10  Downing Street to speak with health secretary Matt Hancock.

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Doctors in Distress launch first support group programmes for doctors suffering from Long-COVID and The Black Medics Forum.

2020

Professor Dr Subodh Dave cycles from Lands End to John O’ Groats to raise money for Doctors in Distress.

Our chair Dame Clare Gerada publishes her book: Beneath the White Coat: Doctors Their Minds and Mental Health with proceeds going to Doctors in Distress.

 

 

 

 

Doctors in Distress is mentioned in the House of Commons by MP Gareth Johnson.

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2021

Doctors in Distress launch a highly successful ‘Blue Monday’ broadcast and social media campaign to raise money for support groups for ITU staff.
Doctors in Distress launch Zermatt to Verbier Charity Fundraiser for 2022.
Doctors in Distress launch first support groups for Nurses with Long-COVID and Shielding Nurses with CHSA.