I’m a doctor. I’ve been a target of cyber-abuse for 6 years. Its time for our laws to change.

Yes its true. I’ve been cyber-abused for 6 years. And I’m not alone.

Daily, doctors, health care professionals and other people are being abused, bullied, harassed and defamed online. These actions are unacceptable and remain unlegislated against, placing people, our health care professionals, in vulnerable positions of harm and potential harm, every moment.

As a doctor in our training 20 years (ish) ago, most of us knew nothing about social media, because, well, it didn’t exist. However, with the rise of the internet and social media the world has become a very different place.

We are fortunate in this society that we have laws that legislate against people causing direct harm to people through for example physical abuse, which is known as assault, or other acts of violence or murder or rape for example. Such acts that bring about gross harm to people ought rightly to be legislated against.

When someone physically assaults you, it is a one-off event,  defined by time, contained by the physical contact, even though the scars both physical and emotional can live for sometime until they are healed. Of course, assaults can be repeated, but the period of each assault is limited by time of physical contact and the physical presence of the person assaulting you.

However, with the unregulated and unlegislated internet, someone can abuse you online and the abuse is there 24 hours a day, in the work place, in your home, in your car, in the bathroom, everywhere, every moment of the day. There is nowhere you can go to escape the abuse as it is permanently there, for all to see, not just you. And as we know, abuse is there to incite others to further abuse and bring about harm, so it makes sense to consider that cyber-abuse is the modern day plague of public health. It is permanent 24/7 abuse, and you never know where the blow is going to come from or when.

At present in our unregulated internet anyone, anywhere, can write whatever they want about you, under the cover of anonymity, and even if they are not anonymous they can still write whatever they want about you as there is zero accountability for abusive actions online.

Despite the fact that most of us spend practically 24 hours online and much of our lives are online and we go online to research things, after 10 years of ‘social’ media, we still do not have appropriate legislation to prevent harm coming to people from the online environment. Continue reading

‘Resilient’ doctors, or, Doctors on Fire?!

GIrl with daisies adj

There is a lot of talk in recent times about doctors needing to be resilient to be able to handle the stresses and strains of the job better, rather than getting depressed or suicidal.

I welcome the attention that is being brought to these important issues. It is vital that we discuss the health issues of the health care profession itself, but it seems to me that we are stopping short of the true potential that is available to us all here.

The notion of resilience means that we toughen ourselves up even more to deal with the stresses and strains of the job. The notion of resilience is still about survival.

Resilience is about doctors surviving the stresses and strains of both the job and the system.

Resilience is not about true health and well-being. It is about a better state of function.

We don’t need doctors who are surviving. We need doctors who are thriving.

Why are we as a health care profession focussing on helping doctors to survive, rather than focussing our attentions on  helping them to thrive?! Continue reading