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Clare Gerada: Doctors and their defences

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 04 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l871

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Re: Clare Gerada: Doctors and their defences

I was delighted to see Claire Gerada's article "Doctors and their Defences" in the BMJ last week. I came across it whilst preparing to talk to University of Bristol medical students as part of the student-led, month long "Let's Talk" campaign, that focusses on medical students' own mental health and wellbeing. I spoke to the students about some of the emotional challenges presented by Medicine, and covered the merits and pitfalls of various defence mechanisms that doctors use. As I finalised my slides for the talk, I wondered how the ideas I wanted to share would be received; would they seem too far-fetched or left field? It was therefore reassuring to see this very topic explored in a high profile medical journal. I absolutely agree with Dr Gerada's assertion that one of the ways we need to support our doctors is by creating time and space for them to reflect on the psychological and emotional impact of the challenges that they face. As it happened, I needn't have worried, the students were open, thoughtful and engaged and I was impressed to see so many turn up, on a rainy Friday evening, to think about their own mental health and wellbeing.

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 March 2019
Ginevra C Read
ST8 in general adult psychiatry and medical psychotherapy
Severn Deanery