The Victorian Doctors Health Program (VDHP) is a free, confidential service for doctors and medical students who have health concerns such as stress, mental health problems, substance use problems, or any other health issues.
Welcome to the Victorian Doctors Health Program
The Victorian Doctors Health Program (also providing services to practitioners in Tasmania) is a free, confidential service for all doctors and medical students who have concerns about their well being such as stress, mental health problems, substance use problems, or any other health issues.
Sensitive to the needs of doctors and medical students, we are a non-judgmental service dedicated to improving the health and well being of those within the profession.
What we do
VDHP provides assistance to doctors and medical students who have any of the following concerns:
Stress and anxiety
Substance use problems
Mental or physical health concerns
Any other health issue
Help you find your own GP/Doctor
Advice is also provided to anyone who is concerned about a doctor or medical student. This includes family, friends, colleagues, university staff and clinical staff.
Since the commencement of VDHP, we have assisted doctors and medical students presenting with numerous issues ranging from those having a mild impact on quality of life to those threatening careers and lives. VDHP deals with each individual case on its merits and offers a range of interventions.
VDHP develops individual management plans and co-ordinates treatment, including arranging appropriate referrals to external treatment providers. We conduct our service with the utmost discretion. Confidentiality is of utmost priority to VDHP. However, like all health practitioners, we are required to remain in compliance with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009.
Kathleen is a thirty-one year old general practitioner who referred herself to the VDHP due to experiencing severe depression. On presenting, she reported decreased enjoyment of usual activities, reduced appetite, frequent crying, and suicidal thoughts. She had also been withdrawing from family and friends, and spending an increasing amount of time in bed. Kathleen reported having experienced one prior episode of depression whilst in medical school, but said that it was not as severe. On conducting a suicide risk assessment, it was agreed that Kathleen would be admitted as an in-patient to an appropriate treatment facility. Following discharge, she agreed to participate in the VDHP Case Management, Aftercare and Monitoring Program (CAMP), and was closely supported by both the VDHP and other specialists involved in her treatment. Whilst Kathleen initially returned to work on a half time basis, she has now resumed full-time practice, and is progressing well.
Rashad is a twenty-one year old third year medical student who was referred to the VDHP by his Clinical Dean. On presenting Rashad said that he was experiencing problems with anxiety, and that he felt “overwhelmed by everything”. He reported restless and disturbed sleeping patterns, poor diet, and immense concern over his pending examinations. Rashad said that whilst he had experienced anxiety previously, it had never been as severe. After some discussion, Rashad was able to identify numerous factors that were contributing to his anxiety, including his examinations, the recent death of a family member, and having to move residence. Rashad agreed to be referred to a psychologist for some on-going counselling. The VDHP arranged the referral, and remained involved with Rashad in a supportive role. Rashad has since reported minimal difficulties with anxiety, and said that he gained immense benefit from counselling. He is currently followed-up by the VDHP on a two monthly basis.
Tracy is s a twenty-five year old intern who attended VDHP on the advice of a friend. She reported ‘recreational’ use of cannabis and amphetamines for the past three years, and increasing heroin use over the past six months. Tracy said that whilst she felt she would be able to control her heroin use, she has recently commenced intravenously injecting the drug. Her progressive heroin use has affected numerous areas of her life, including family, friendships, and her employment. The VDHP referred Tracy for specialist drug assessment. She agreed to become a CAMP participant, and it was arranged that Tracy receive individual counselling, group therapy, and on-going monitoring. Tracy complied with the program requirements, and has had no relapse behaviour.
Walter is a senior specialist with teaching hospital commitments. His practice manager referred him to VDHP after receiving several reports of him presenting at work with signs of alcohol consumption. At assessment it was clear that Walter had a serious problem with alcohol dependency. His family life was in turmoil, and his adult children were extremely worried about him as he was becoming increasingly isolated. Walter was referred for inpatient treatment at a specialist alcohol and drug facility. Following discharge, he agreed to become a CAMP participant. The VDHP then helped facilitate his re-entry to work. Walter has complied with all of his treatment and monitoring requirements. His family life has been restored, and he is back enjoying work. He recently celebrated one year of recovery.
VDHP regularly delivers educational presentations and workshops to doctors and medical students about:
Overviews of doctors’ health and well-being
Substance abuse among doctors
Stress and stress management for doctors
The work that VDHP does and how to access our services
How to be a ‘Doctor for a Doctor’
Or any other topic related to doctors’ health
We can tailor our presentations according to specific needs – we can provide anything from a 15 min lecture-style presentation to an interactive workshop lasting half a day.
A few examples of the groups to which we have presented are: medical students at universities, interns at hospitals, and GPs in rural Victoria via their local division of General Practice. Our Senior Clinicians have also been keynote speakers at various medical conferences.
MORE RESOURCES TO HELP YOU STAY HEALTHY AND SUPPORT FOR WHEN YOU ARE NOT
DRS4DRS (www.drs4drs.com.au) has been developed by the medical profession for the medical profession. We are here for all the profession and our medical students.
This website of information and contacts complements the network of doctors’ health advisory and referral services, which offer an independent, safe, supportive and confidential service. https://www.drs4drs.com.au/getting-help/
We’re here to help you find the support you need – online resources, referral services and importantly for wellbeing, we’ll help you find a GP.
In addition to these, Doctors Health Services Pty Ltd (DrHS) is also making available a confidential and free telehealth service specifically for doctors and medical students who are struggling with their mental health. Call 1300 374 377 (1300 Dr4Drs) for crisis and non-urgent mental health support. Full details here. (link to https://www.drs4drs.com.au/getting-help/#telemedicine)
Monday – Friday 9am-5pm Closed Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
If you require urgent assistance outside office hours, please phone us and our answering machine will provide you with details of how to contact the senior clinician on call who will be available to assist with issues requiring immediate attention.
Please be aware that VDHP is not staffed or equipped to provide emergency services. If you require emergency assistance please dial 000, or call LifeLine on 13 11 14.