Starting a conversation about mental health with crazy socks

They may just look like the socks you get to wear to bed at night but these crazy socks represent a very important message.

Today, Friday 7 June, staff from right across Sydney Children's Hospitals Network are wearing their loudest, brightest, most colourful socks to work to celebrate #CrazySocks4Docs day and promote the importance of self care in healthcare.  

#CrazySocks4Docs day is a campaign to raise awareness about the health and wellbeing, particularly mental health, of everyone working in the healthcare industry.

Dr Luke Lowes, Chief Resident Medical Officer at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, said the campaign is an opportunity to start conversations in the workplace to help make discussing the topic of mental health the norm.

“Across the healthcare industry, too many lives are lost due to mental illness. We want to create a culture where staff feel comfortable to seek support if they need it,” Dr Lowes said.

The campaign was founded by Melbourne cardiologist, Dr Geoff Toogood, after his own battle with mental illness. The crazy sock motif stemmed from a conversation between two people who knew of Dr Toogood’s mental health history and were concerned when he turned up to work wearing odd socks. The odd socks were simply a result of Dr Toogood’s dog mauling his washing, but it started a conversation that needed to happen.

In a 2013 report by Beyond Blue, studies found that psychological distress was significantly greater in doctors in comparison to the general population and other professionals (3.4% vs. 2.6% vs. 0.7%) and highlights the need for the mental health and wellbeing of doctors to be a priority. It’s not only doctors who are at risk though. Everyone working in the healthcare industry can be affected, from nurses, medical students, social workers, right through to dentists, pharmacists and physiotherapists.

The Network recognises that stresses placed on healthcare workers and is committed to creating an environment where the mental health and wellbeing of all staff is prioritised and supported

 “CrazySocks4Docs Day is a great way to get the conversation started about mental health and wellbeing, raising awareness that in healthcare we are in a unique position and face many stressors on a daily basis," Dr Amanda Marsden, Chief Resident Medical Officer, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

"I’m really grateful for the support of the SCHN and the collaboration between the sites in order to support this initiative.”

Getting involved in #CrazySocks4Docs day is easy and everyone is invited to take part.

STEP 1 – Wear Crazy Socks

Wear your loudest, brightest, craziest pair of socks

STEP 2 - Take a photo

Spread the word: post to social media using hashtag #CrazySocks4Docs

STEP 3 - Start the conversation

Remember lives lost; encourage staff to care for one another and to seek support. Help raise awareness about mental health and reshape our culture.

If you, or someone you know is struggling, there is help available:

  • Speak to your GP
  • Speak to your manager
  • Mental Health Hotline (24 hr) 1800 011 511
  • Employee Assistance Program 1800 337 068
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • Men’s Help 1300 78 99 78
  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36
  • Lifeline 13 11 14