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healthcareCity Press reports that the tragic suicide of leading cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi, who battled depression for two years, has resulted in new concern and discussion around the mental health of medical practitioners.  

A study recently published in the SA Journal of Psychiatry indicates that symptoms of mental wellness issues – such as burnout, which can be a forerunner to clinical depression – can start as early as a medical professional’s student years.  Burnout describes a process of mental exhaustion.  It has been shown to “have a devastating impact on health professionals, such as declining mental and physical health as well as quality of life, which has serious repercussions for health professions as the career becomes less attractive”.  Compared with the general population, the researchers noted how students and medical practitioners have a higher prevalence of burnout and stress-related mental disorders.  Psychiatrist Jan Chabalala said what was particularly surprising for him about Mayosi’s suicide and the discussions many people were having around depression, was the misconception that “successful and intelligent people don’t become depressed”.  He observed:  “People think that because you supposedly have ‘everything’ in a material sense, and are intelligent, you won’t suffer from mental illness.  But the bottom line is that Mayosi was a human being, and disease is everyone’s risk.”  Dentists, gynaecologists and anaesthesiologists all have high suicide rates apparently because they deal with a lot of complaints and litigation if operations do not go well.

  • Read this report by Vuyo Mkize in full at News24
  • Read too, ‘Silent killer’ stalks stressed doctors, on page 8 of The Sunday Times of 5 August 2018

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