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“Disappearing Doctors” Provides Crucial Mental Health Support for Physicians as Pandemic Threatens to Exacerbate Doctor Suicide Crisis

Press Release - New York, 10 September 2020

FCB Health New York founds first-ever global coalition to “heal the healers” during 

World Suicide Prevention Day

New York, September 10, 2020 – In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, FCB Health New York announces the launch of “Disappearing Doctors,” a pro bono initiative advocating for and providing mental health support to physicians in need, in partnership with Sermo, Haymarket Media Group, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

Despite an ongoing plague of doctor suicides, many cannot seek support or treatment without putting their livelihoods in jeopardy. According to a recent survey of 4,500 global doctors by Sermo, one in three said they knew a colleague who has died by suicide, while 64 percent said they would fear professional repercussions if they sought help for suicidal thoughts or “burnout.”

Doctors may be reluctant to seek mental health support, but burnout – a state of cognitive, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by sustained stress – is a growing problem for physicians, according to 98 percent of the physicians surveyed by Sermo. Burnout and other complex factors lead an estimated 400 doctors to die by suicide each year, more than double the annual suicides in the general population, according to findings unveiled at the 2018 American Psychiatric Association meeting. That is the equivalent of two full medical school classes lost each year, and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to exacerbate this crisis.

“Front line physicians are at higher risk for burnout and mental distress, but almost one in two doctors are reluctant to seek mental health support, which could help them cope better, heal faster and be happier,” said Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. “Removing barriers that prevent physicians from seeking help should be a high priority for the field.”

A first-of-its-kind global initiative, “Disappearing Doctors” offers a safe space dedicated to the medical community and their mental health. The campaign was specifically designed to raise awareness about this taboo subject, with the goal of removing stigma around the mental health issues our healers are facing.

“We want to amplify physicians’ voices so we can destigmatize mental health issues and work toward a solution,” said Mike Devlin, FCB Health New York Executive Creative Director. “We’re asking the broader community to join us in this fight to heal our healers.” 

Through its partnership with Sermo, an online community of over 800,000 anonymous healthcare professionals across 150 countries, Disappearing Doctors is giving doctors a first-of-its-kind refuge. Now, doctors anywhere in the world can rally around each other, speak openly about their experiences with mental health and burnout, and do so without fear of repercussion. 

“Our mission is to support physicians globally – including offering a platform for them to share their mental health challenges that have been silenced for too long,” said Peter Kirk, Sermo CEO. “Sermo has always been a place where physicians seek support and resources, and we’re proud that together, our platform and partnership are trailblazing in the battle against mental health stigma in the medical community."

“FCB Health New York had been planning this campaign prior to the pandemic,” continued Devlin, “and the breakthrough came when Sermo joined the partnership to create the safe haven experience, followed by Haymarket Media Group and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”

Disappearing Doctors calls upon all those dedicated to the mental health of our healers to join the coalition, and help find meaningful ways to support physicians. By raising awareness around these vital issues, medical institutions, professional associations, support organizations, and others can raise awareness to help end the stigma, and also build tools and resources for the global peer support network based within Sermo.

“At FCB Health Network, we are surrounded by medical heroes. They are our colleagues, our clients, family members, and friends. I’m incredibly proud that the team has created this safe haven to give back to those who give so selflessly,” said Dana Maiman, President and CEO of FCB Health Network.

For more information or to explore a partnership with “Disappearing Doctors,” please visit DisappearingDoctors.com and follow Disappearing Doctors on Facebook.  

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About FCB Health Network

FCB Health Network is one of the world’s most awarded communications networks, focused on creating game-changing marketing solutions for consumers, patients, and healthcare professionals. With specialized units covering a wide range of wellness practices, FCB Health Network employs more than 2,500 people across an extensive global network, delivering multichannel capabilities that include DTC and HCP communications, professional education, branding, scientific services, strategic planning, and media services. Its integrated agency offering includes AREA 23, AREA 23 ON HUDSON, BX – Brand Experience Design Group, FCB Health Amsterdam, FCB Health Brasil, FCB Health Canada, FCB Health Energy Milan, FCB Health Frankfurt, FCB Health Hampshire, FCB Health LL Conseil Paris, FCB Health London, FCB Health Madrid, FCB Health New York, FCB Health Reaktör, FCB Health Zurich, FCBCURE, Mosaic Group, Neon, ProHealth, Solve(d), Studio Rx, Trio, and YuzuYello. The FCB Health Network was named “Agency of the Year” by Med Ad News in 2006, 2009, 2015, and 2017, and by Medical Marketing & Media in 2007, 2010, 2015, and 2017. In eight of the past nine years, an FCB Health Network company has received “Most Creative Agency” honors. Cannes Lions, the world’s preeminent annual creative awards festival, named its AREA 23 unit “Healthcare Agency of the Year” in 2017, and named FCB Health Network “Healthcare Network of the Year” in 2018. In 2019, Med Ad News named FCB Health Network “Network of the Year.” The FCB Health Network also received “Network of the Year” honors at the 2019 Clio Health Awards.