June 5, 2020

Crazy Socks for a clear head

Today, Northern Health celebrates CrazySocks4Docs Day, encouraging all staff to wear their most colourful socks and start the conversation around mental health.

Dr John Ferguson, Chief Medical Officer, explained the catalyst behind the event.

“Dr Geoff Toogood, founder of the movement, was self-managing depression and feeling he could not seek help because that was not the “done thing” for doctors. One day, he put on two totally different socks and a senior colleague questioned his sanity,” said John.

“That gave cause for pause and the advent of this day to recognise and destigmatise mental health in general, and in doctors specifically. Extrapolating this, it is recognition of diversity in many aspects of our lives and a bit of lightheartedness to raise awareness and promote support.”

This year, our doctors received a generous donation from a local small business, Soxy Beast, who have generously donated 1,000 crazy socks for our Northern Health doctors!

Dr Edwina Holbeach, Director of Physician training explained they were originally looking at sourcing a sock supplier to provide as gifts to our medical staff to say thank you and to coincide with CrazySocks4Docs Day.

“We decided to approach Soxy Beast as they are a local company – we explained what type of socks we needed, asked for a quote, they replied saying they would like to very generously donate them. We are glad we found this company, as it has a very strong social ethics and they are linked with local artists and Melbourne charities,” she said.

Giuliano Pietrolungo, from Soxy Beast, said, “We’ve always believed that businesses should exist for a purpose greater than ‘just to make money’, it is in the very essence of our business model. The CrazySocks4Docs Day is a great initiative that we immediately warmed to and wanted to be involved.”

Dr Holbeach explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all health care staff in different ways. It raised the levels of anxiety and concerns about personal risks, especially seeing the experiences overseas.

“A lot of our doctors have family or colleagues who work in health care abroad and have seen the emotional impact of caring for patients with COVID-19, especially with social distancing and restrictions in please. Luckily, we haven’t experienced that huge wave of patients,” she said.

“For the junior staff, one of the biggest concerns is that training has been put on hold and that puts their entire career progression in a grey zone at the moment. One of the effects of COVID-19 on mental health is seeing the effect of uncertainty of what will the future bring,” she added.

One of our doctors, Alanna Rottler, said CrazySocks4Docs signifies a change in the way that the medical profession thinks about and supports our colleagues.

“It’s a day when we acknowledge that our jobs take a toll which can be significant, but that this toll shouldn’t go unrecognised and unsupported. I think it also underscores that although we work in teams throughout hospitals, the broader health professional community is still fairly tight-knit. Because of this there is great value in both celebrating achievements and supporting one another when times are tough”.

Alison O’Sullivan, Workplace Wellbeing Coordinator, said Northern Health is focused on supporting the mental health of our staff and promoting self-care.

“We are in the caring profession and we care a lot for other people, but we need to care for ourselves as well. Our wellbeing program offers programs like Employee Assistance program (Converge), and we are running programs like yoga, TREAT mindfulness sessions, stress management sessions and massages for all staff. Please keep checking the intranet for our regular offers,” she added.

“It’s important that our medical staff knows there is also local support within departments, like restructuring rosters and similar. Sometimes, people just need some time out. If that is how you feel, come talk to us. We can’t help if we don’t know about it,” Dr Holbeach said.

For more pictures of our staff marking CrazySocks4Docs Day click here.

Dr Lachie Hayes, Siva Sivarajah, Chief Executive and Linda Romano, Divisional Director Nursing, Surgical Services celebrating Crazy Socks Day


Featured image (left to right): Back row – Michelle Rovetto, Dr Alistar Tinson, Dr Edwina Holbeach, Dr John Ferguson, Guliano and Raffaele Pietrolungo  from Soxy Beast; Front row – Dr Mandeep Singh Kalsi, Dr Rhonda Taleb and Dr Tessa Low.