Cipla and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) are calling on South Africans to show their support for the country’s heroic healthcare workers by wearing mismatched socks on 4 June 2021, in celebration of the third annual global #Socks4Docs drive.
The collaboration also will see more than 25,000 pairs of colourful, eye catching socks given to South Africa’s hardworking healthcare workers, including medical professionals and students, to highlight how important it is for them to take care of their own mental health, and to help remove the stigma so often associated with it.
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. That way, they can stay trendy and support the medical fraternity, including medical students, interns, and those doing community service.
This is at a time when the country’s health workers were already under extreme pressure and facing burnout before the COVID-19 pandemic struck South Africa, with doctors more than 2.5 times more likely than their compatriots to commit suicide.
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,” he says.
The #Socks4Docs initiative was started by Australian Dr 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.
“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,” Miller says.
If you know anyone, not just a medical professional that needs help or has suicidal thoughts, take them seriously and call the CIPLA 24-hour mental health helpline on 0800 456 789 or WhatsApp 076 882 2775 for free counselling from a SADAG counsellor.