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Sunday 20 January 2019
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Khan: Intern opens door for discussion on mental health

MP for Barataria/San Juan Dr Fuad Khan in the lower house
MP for Barataria/San Juan Dr Fuad Khan in the lower house PHOTO BY AZLAN MOHAMMED

Some medical professionals are calling on their colleagues to be silent about the doctor at the centre of an alleged racist rant on social media.

The doctor has been suspended but Newsday was reliably informed of a senior medical professional recommending that colleagues do not comment or respond to the intern’s situation.

But former health minister Dr Fuad Khan believes the situation provides an opportunity for a discussion on mental health in the medical profession in TT.

“So in fact, we should thank the lady for behaving in that manner and bringing this problem to the forefront so that generally mental health can be dealt with in the medical fraternity,” he said.

Khan said this matter goes to show that doctors who have mental issues like addiction are unfairly protected “in a way because when they don’t have to seek treatment, they don’t have to deal with their disorder.”

People, he said, have to feel sorry for her because “she obviously has some sort of mental illness that needs to be dealt with.”

He added she may be able to recover given the proper treatment and counselling.

It was a “no no” for senior doctors to say to be silent.

This, he added, shows the failings of the professions. “You try to put things under the carpet that needs to be dealt with. Had they dealt with it, in medical school, it would not have reached this stage,” he said.

Her behaviour, Khan said, is a cry for help.

At the end of the day the doctor is a victim, he said. “I know a lot of doctors who are addicts who have not gotten the appropriate treatment. People pretend it does not exist, the same doctors that they work with.

Asked if this could be linked in any way to physician burnout, about which the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association (TTMA) issued a press release on May 18, Khan said, “If you look at mental health as a serious issue, doctors do suffer from mental issues and if it is not taken care of...You could be a doctor with a serious mental health problem and no one is taking you on. Depression occurs in doctors the same way it occurs in everyone else.

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