How the project developed

This booklet began with a GP, Dr Morris Gallagher, taking photographs about the stress of working from home. Dr Richard Duggins, a consultant psychiatrist/medical psychotherapist who has been treating GPs with stress and burnout for the last 15 years, wanted to reach a bigger group of doctors than seen in his consulting room, with practical help and guidance about managing stress and burnout. We also thought thought that these unique images might help people to reflect on their own experiences of managing difficulty. We decided to make a cheap, easy-to-read booklet to reach as many doctors as possible.

The booklet so far

The first version was created by Dr Gallagher in InDesign, an Adobe software for creating books and other printed matter. We printed out a first version to show to others. We concluded that the booklet need to be smaller, and that we needed a professional to improve the quality of production and design. Deciding on fonts and paper stocks are outside of our knowledge bases!

We engaged the booklet designer Helen Willis  to help us to produce print and digital forms. We decided to make the print version available at low cost from a ‘print on demand’ bookshop. We were also advise by a marketing consultant and media consultant who gave  their time free of charge.  second drafts of the booklet is shown below. 

Doctors in Distress provided advise early on in producing the booklet and any profit raised by this will be given to this charity. Neither author will benefit financially from this booklet.

The photographs

These are the first of 15 photographs created by Dr Gallagher in 2020 to show psychological reactions and adaptations to stress. These were staged in his bedroom, where he consulted online as a doctor for several months. The room was emptied to create ‘settings’ that express his and other doctors’ feelings about working from home during the pandemic. The first two photographs, made from neighbours’ delivery boxes and empty drinks bottles, were made to illustrate the idea of ‘Displacement’ as a coping activity.  The third photograph illustrates ‘depression,’ and the last image ‘hope.’ You might read other things into these images.

The original images did not reflect the distress of managing stress and other psychological issues. These new images have been distorted in Photoshop.

We roll forward to 2022. The original images were shared with another photographer and  reviewer at Red Eye. They suggested printing and shaping the original images to see if they enhanced their impact and visual appeal. Dr Gallagher did this and feedback on Instagram showed that people identified more with the new images than the originals. These and other images from a series about stress during the COVID-19 pandemic were also included in the booklet and are shown below.

The advice

Dr Richard Duggins talks regularly to  groups of doctors about stress and burnout. Dr Gallagher first heard him speak at a GP appraiser update meeting online. He thought that  he had experience in helping doctors to manage stress, burnout, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. His themes and practical advice were very helpful. Dr Gallagher approached him to see if he would be interested in doing a booklet that would reach many stressed and burnout doctors. 

The advice in the book is generated from an audio interview between both of us in a sound booth made from chairs and duvet covers in Dr Gallagher’s front room. We had seven questions to work with but created new questions and responses up as we spent time together. The interview questions were based on Richard Duggins’ Powerpoint presentation for one of his lectures.