A DOCTOR who is recovering from a severe mental illness received national screen time for his work to tackle the “taboo” faced by healthcare workers with similar issues.

Iain McGibbon, a Cardiff Medical School graduate, qualified as a doctor in 2011 and was set to specialise in psychiatry when he suffered the “cruel irony” of mental illness himself.

I enjoyed working as a doctor thoroughly," the 31-year-old said. "I had the opportunity to speak to patients and families; it was a very rewarding day-to-day job.

"It was varied, exciting, challenging, and stressful.”

But when he unexpectedly started to experience depression, Dr McGibbon decided to take time away from the highly respected profession. It was then that he came to realise the problems he and his colleagues face when admitting their own mental health challenges.

“I didn’t think that as a doctor I could go to another health professional and be open and honest,” the he said. “I felt scared and alone because I was put on a pedestal as a doctor and should have no vulnerabilities.

“The stress of the job often leads to breakdown; however, there is still a huge stigma attached to doctors speaking out about their own mental health issues.”

Dr McGibbon took time out and moved to Henllan in 2016, committing to a recovery programme of diet and exercise, drama, sport and music. He received help and volunteered at Vale of Clwyd MIND, the Denbigh mental health support service, when he came to another realisation that he could still put the skills learned at medical school to use.

“As a fully qualified medical doctor, I have significant experience and interest in mental health both personally and as a practitioner. I was keen to give a platform to highlight important issues which I felt needed to be heard.”

Dr McGibbon submitted a report proposal to the Breaking Into News competition, run by Media Trust in partnership with ITV, and won the Wales region.

He was given a news team to produce his final work to be aired on ITV Wales Evening News. The report discussed surveys which showed 20 per cent of doctors experience some form of mental illness - yet only 19 per cent are willing to talk to a medical professional.

He also interviewed John Fleet, a retired surgeon who at one time also suffered from depression and now runs mindfulness workshops just outside Henllan.

“We both believe it is vitally important that we should be taught how to look after ourselves and learn strategies so that we can remain healthy,” Dr McGibbon concluded.

“It is in all our interests that the NHS can provide better services by keeping doctors healthy. It would mean reduced staff shortage, absenteeism and waiting lists.

“I am passionate about helping those with mental health issues to realise that a bright and fulfilling future is possible, one which can be healthy both physically and mentally. I hope that this competition is just the start of this new venture.”