The West

More than 40,000 doctors - half of all those in Australia - will be quizzed about their mental health amid concerns that being on the frontline of treating depression could make them more at risk.

The world-first project to assess the mental wellbeing of Australia's doctors and medical students will be launched this week, with 2000 being sent questionnaires as part of a pilot phase.

The National Mental Health Survey of the Medical Profession will offer an unprecedented insight into the mental health of Australian medical professionals, who are on the frontline of treating conditions such as depression and anxiety.

As part of the beyondblue project, more than half of Australia's 80,000 doctors and 16,000 medical students, including every doctor in regional Australia, will be sent a mental health questionnaire in coming months to which they will be asked to respond anonymously.

Beyondblue chief executive Kate Carnell said it was the first time in the world that such a big portion of a country's doctors would be surveyed on their mental health.

The pilot program group will be assessed in the next few weeks before the remaining randomly selected 40,000 doctors and 8000 medical students receive their questionnaires in February.

She said the survey's final results would be used from the middle of next year to better understand the mental health of Australian doctors, increase community awareness of the issue and improve how doctors' mental health problems were treated.

Ms Carnell said it was important that the mental health of doctors was as robust as possible.

"This survey will show us for the first time how Australian doctors are coping in the demanding jobs they work and offer invaluable insights into how we can support the critical work they do," she said.

"Research indicates that stigma around doctors having mental health problems and a fear among them that their career will suffer if they admit to having one contributes to a reluctance to seek early help, and this in turn compounds the problem."

The West Australian

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