Intended for healthcare professionals


I’ve noticed a change in my colleague’s behaviour. What should I do?

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 10 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2392
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

It can be difficult to approach a colleague if you have concerns about their wellbeing because of a change in their behaviour. Abi Rimmer asks experts how best to handle this situation

Small gestures make a big difference

Lucy Warner, chief executive of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, says, “If you’ve noticed a change, then this situation has probably been around for some time and may already have become a fairly serious problem. Doctors are very good at focusing on the patient in front of them and neglecting their own health. There are lots of reasons why doctors don’t seek help, both personal and logistical.

“The best thing you can do is speak up. Ask, ‘Are you ok?’ or ‘You don’t seem yourself. Do you want to talk?’ The smallest gesture can make the greatest difference. If you don’t want to speak to them directly, write a note and slip it to them. Let them know they’re not alone—we all have days when the world gets to us. You might …

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