South Africa

Don a pair of mismatched socks to show support for SA's exhausted health workers

Don a pair of mismatched socks to show support for SA's exhausted health workers

If you are wearing a pair of mismatched socks, you will be forgiven for your fashion faux pas.

In a bid to turn the spotlight on mental health issues SA's healthcare workers have been facing, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, the third annual #Socks4Docs drive is being marked on Friday.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) and Cipla have encouraged South Africans to wear mismatched socks in support of the initiative.

More than 25,000 pairs of colourful, eye catching socks will be handed out to healthcare workers, including medical professionals and students, to highlight the importance of them taking care of their mental health, and to help remove the stigma often associated with it.

The #Socks4Docs initiative was started by Australian doctor Geoff Toogood, who admitted that he was struggling with work-related stress and anxiety when he wore mismatched socks to work one day.

Rather than being ashamed of his distracted muddle, Dr Toogood used it to highlight the mental health issues faced by health workers every day.

While any set of funky socks will do to commemorate the day, South Africans wanting to support Sadag in its work can buy a pair of the same socks that doctors will receive, on Takealot.

According to Sadag, health workers were already under extreme pressure and facing burnout before the pandemic struck SA, with doctors more than 2.5 times more likely than their compatriots to commit suicide

According to the group, healthcare workers’ mental health is important for the wellbeing of their patients too.

Medical journal The Lancet noted that “physicians’ wellbeing must be recognised as a care quality indicator for all health systems, and improving the working lives of clinicians can optimise the performance of health systems, improve patient experience, drive population health, and reduce costs.”

“South Africa’s healthcare workers have been the true heroes of the last year, remaining committed to providing constant care despite exhaustion, risk of infection, and possible transmission to family members,” says Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla South Africa.

“They’ve also experienced the loss of family, friends, and patients, with all of these factors impacting on their mental health and wellness.

“There are very real mental health issues that come with working in environments under such ongoing stress, and we need to let our healthcare superheroes know that it’s OK to ask for help, and to take time to invest in their own wellbeing.

“Let your feet show your love on #Socks4Docs day by taking a ‘footsie’ of your fabulous socks and sharing the image on all your social media platforms with the hashtag, so that our healthcare workers know that we’re supporting them in every way we can.”

If you or anyone, not just a medical professional, needs help or has suicidal thoughts, call the Cipla 24-hour mental health helpline on 0800-456-789 or WhatsApp 076-882-2775 for free counselling from a Sadag counsellor.

TimesLIVE