A national survey starting next month aims to gauge the mental health risks faced by doctors and medical students on rural placements who can face unique challenges.

The survey by mental health initiative Beyond Blue will sample 8000 students and 40,000 doctors, including all doctors working in rural areas.

A Beyond Blue literature review in 2010 found the suicide rate for male doctors was 26 per cent above the general population rate, while female doctors had a 146 per cent higher risk of suicide.

Local GP and Rural Clinical School of Western Australia medical co-ordinator Phillip Reid said there had already been a lot of research in this area.

He said it was widely known for health professionals to be more prone to depression and anxiety, with doctors and dentists well-represented in this group.

“As a profession we underreport our stress. For the survey to mean anything it would need to make participants full and frank about their mental health,” Dr Reid said. “It is essential for every doctor to have their own doctor.”

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