Dr Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a young Austrian physician, was a well-known champion of the COVID-19 vaccine. For over 7 months, she received hate-filled letters from those opposed to Covid vaccines and measures taken by the government to contain the pandemic. Anti-vaccination activists and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists threatened to enter her premises, and torture and kill her and her staff. She suffered cyber-bullying. Reacting to the threats, she spent over €100,000 on security measures at her practice. Dr Kellermayr cried out for help, but the response of the political establishment and the police was nil or inadequate. Faced with continuing threats, debts and depression, she committed suicide.
The International Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISPOG) sympathizes with Dr. Kellermayr’s family and professional colleagues and calls on governmental and non-governmental establishments to address the growing menace of hate and intolerance in modern society. Underlying this menace are mental health issues which, if left unaddressed, lead to various types of victim abuse, rape and violent crime. Professional bodies should take a lead in pressing for society to address what is becoming a ‘hate pandemic’.
This sad story underscores the importance of paying more attention of the physical and mental wellbeing of health care providers. Across the world, health care providers are confronted with verbal and physical threats and actual abuse. Other work pressures lead to burnout. We worry so much about the mental health of patients but not enough about that of care providers. A new paradigm is called for; one that incorporates the wellbeing of both care-giver and care-recipient.
With this statement we share the view of the Austrian Society for Psychosomatic Gynaecology and Obstetrics.
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