What to say as a doctor to get stress leave
As a doctor, it can be difficult to admit that you are struggling with stress or burnout, but it is important to prioritise your own mental health and wellbeing so that you can continue to provide the best possible care to your patients.
In fact, it is now stated in the Declaration of Geneva "I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard."
If you feel that you need to take time off due to stress, here are some things that you can say to your employer or supervisor to get stress leave.
Be honest and direct
The first step in getting stress leave is, to be honest, and direct about your situation. Tell your employer or supervisor that you are struggling with stress or are feeling burned out and that you need time off to recover. Explain how your stress is affecting your work and your ability to provide quality care to your patients. Be clear about what you need and how much time you need to take off.
Provide specific examples
When you are talking to your employer or supervisor about your need for stress leave, it can be helpful to provide specific examples of how your stress is affecting your work. For example, you might explain that you are having trouble concentrating, or that you are feeling overwhelmed by your workload and how those feelings are affecting your patient care.
By providing concrete examples, you can help your employer understand the severity of your situation.
Talk about coping strategies
It can also be helpful to talk about coping strategies that you are using or plan to use to manage your stress. This can show your employer that you are taking steps to address the issue and that you are committed to getting better. Examples of coping strategies might include taking time for self-care, seeking therapy, or making lifestyle changes such as improving your sleep or exercise habits.
Emphasise the importance of recovery
Finally, it is important to emphasise the importance of taking time off to recover. Explain that by taking time off now, you will be better able to provide quality care to your patients in the long run. Explain that taking time off for stress is a proactive step that will help you be a better, more effective doctor in the future.
In Australia, doctors who are experiencing mental health issues may need to take a leave of absence from work to focus on their wellbeing. To ask for stress leave, doctors can start by talking to their employer or human resources department and explaining their situation. They may need to provide a doctor's note for stress, which can be obtained by scheduling an appointment with a medical professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
In some cases, doctors may be eligible for short-term sick leave, which can last up to 12 work weeks under the Fair Work Act. During this time, doctors can take the necessary steps to address their mental and physical health issues without worrying about their work responsibilities. However, it's important to note that this type of leave is typically unpaid.
To get a doctor's note for stress, doctors may need to provide information about their work hours, the nature of their mental health problems, and any other medical conditions they may have, such as heart disease. It's also important to review any frequently asked questions (FAQs) or policies regarding stress leave at work to understand their rights and obligations.
Ultimately, seeking help and taking time off when necessary is crucial for doctors to maintain their mental and physical well-being. By understanding their options and taking the appropriate steps, doctors can prioritize their health and return to work with a renewed sense of focus and energy.
If you need to take stress leave as a doctor, it is important to be honest and direct with your employer or supervisor. Provide specific examples of how your stress is affecting your work, talk about coping strategies, and emphasise the importance of taking time off to recover.
By prioritising your own mental health and wellbeing, you will be better able to provide the best possible care to your patients in the long run.
If you are struggling with burnout or other health and wellbeing-related issues we have created a list of mental health and wellbeing services in Australia and New Zealand.