Alison Fairleigh Making Inroads Into Rural and Regional General Practitioner Mental Health
Congratulations Alison Fairleigh (Senior Manager – Community Engagement) of selectability on being a recipient of the David Horn Memorial Medal, which was presented to her at the Rural Doctor’s Association of Queensland (RDAQ) 2017 Awards.
Alison was recognised for her service to rural medicine. For several years now, Alison has been working with medical students to help prepare them for life in rural Australia, including caring for their own mental health.
She also talks to them about the challenges they will face when working in a rural or remote community, particularly in farming communities, and the kinds of supports and organisations that are available for them to tap into when needing to support the mental health of a patient, or their own.
Alison expressed that there are still many barriers and stigmas attached to General Practitioner (GP) mental health – in particular, fear of “mandatory reporting”.
“There is a great deal of misunderstanding in what ‘mandatory reporting’ actually means however, the medical community in Australia has been somewhat paralysed by it for decades.
The threshold for ‘mandatory reporting’ is, in fact, quite high and a GP would only be obligated to report another GP if their mental health impacted on their ability to practise safely and was putting patients at risk.
To this end, we have decades of ingrained thinking to overcome to be able to release GPs from the fear of seeking help for their own mental health issues,” Alison explains some of the biggest challenges in making inroads into GP mental health.
This article was originally published by the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health.
Alison is a committee member of the Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium.