Dr. Geoff Toogood is the founder of the Crazysocks4docs movement. He is a consultant cardiologist in Melbourne, Victoria.
He has lived experience of both depression and anxiety. He faced stigma and discrimination at many levels and was determined that once recovered he would create an awareness movement to break down the stigma faced by health professionals.
He wants to reduce doctors’ suicide around the world.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life?
My rescue cat. I’ve got a dog. But the rescue cat was certainly the best purchase under $100. She has helped during all the lockdowns and is a friend for my dog.
What is the funniest thing that has happened in your job?
Years ago, they used to have banks in the hospital. And, the bank at our hospital was held up. They didn't know what to do, as they didn't have many security guards back then. So the only thing they could think of doing was to page the cardiac arrest team.
We ran to the bank, and there were all these people there with guns.
I'm not sure why the hospital decided to page a code blue to a bank robbery! I think that all they could think of was that it’s an emergency, and the code blue team was for emergencies.
It wouldn't happen now because there are no banks in hospitals, and there are more security guards. But it was a while ago.
Favorite guilty pleasure after a stressful day at work?
Normally, I’d like to have a swim. But it's a bit hard during lockdown, so I’m kind of binge-watching Netflix at the moment. I will also do a jam on the drum kit and I love cooking new recipes.
How has a failure (or apparent failure) set you up for later success? Do you have a "favorite failure" of yours?
My answer here is not a failure, but I think it can often be perceived to be by society.
Having my significant mental health issues led me to set up Crazysocks4docs and involved me in lots of charity work and wellness work for doctors and health care professionals.
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I've taken up the drums. Over lockdown it has been online drum lessons, but now it's back to in person and a jam with my teacher. That’s kind of fun. That's improved my life.
I always wanted to learn the drums from 16. And a friend of mine a few years ago said she’ll gift me some lessons. It's been good. The drums are fun because it's a distracter, you have to be in the zone to play it.
If you had a billboard for all other healthcare professionals out there with any message, what would it say?
It’s okay not to be okay.
Vulnerability is a strength.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven student? What advice should they ignore?
Be smart and work hard but it's also okay to say no. Yeah. Learn to say no!
Can you tell us about a bad recommendation you received or that you hear often in your line of work?
When I was a med student, I was given kind of a bad recommendation.
They said: “He wouldn’t be good at cardiology.” 25 years as a cardiologist later…
When you feel overwhelmed or lose focus temporarily, what do you do? (What questions do you ask yourself to get back on track?)
I sit down for a minute or two with sort of meditation & grounding techniques. I call it mini mindfulness. If it's worse than that, one of the things I find that helps reset my brain is to swim or walk in the cold water because it just distracts you.
I might go for a swim or plunge in the cold water... Or, I might just walk in the cold. One of those good brisk walks.
What is your best or your favorite achievement in your career so far?
Turning a dark day into Crazysocks4docs and attacking the stigma around mental health in doctors and health care professionals. That's my favourite achievement.
The Crazysocks4docs Trust Foundation was established to fulfil Geoff Toogood’s vision of breaking down the stigma around mental health issues in doctors and health professionals.
Crazysocks4docs is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, and is endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a deductible gift recipient.