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Doctors fear losing license if they seek mental healthcare

Our mental health is an important component of a healthy life. Recently, Prince Harry opened up about his mental health issues. He started a campaign “Heads Together” in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of seeking help.

But what happens when you are a doctor and job stress, family issues, and traumatic situations at work take their toll?

Research suggests that nearly 40 percent of U.S. physicians are reluctant to seek help

 

A study conducted by Mayo Clinic illustrates the issues doctors face.

New license and renewal applications ask questions about mental health. In some states, license boards ask applicants about mental health treatment going back a year or more. Physicians in these states report a much higher reluctance to seek the care they need. They feel it will be used against them.

Furthermore, some states have a history of sanctioning physicians who have a mental health diagnosis. In other cases, a doctor who is open about his or her mental health may experience subtle or even overt discrimination in the workplace.

The Federation of State Medical Boards recommends a “Don’t Ask policy

The Federation of State Medical Boards suggests that state medical boards do not ask about mental health. There is a strong possibility that doing so would violate the 2009 Americans with Disabilities Act. Nevertheless, each state manages its own process. Not all are following the advice when licensing doctors.

Physicians have a high rate of depression and suicide. Seeking mental health care should be a priority in such a high-risk, high stress job. Unfortunately, state medical boards may be playing a part in doctor’s hesitation to seek treatment.

Fear of losing your license or having restrictions placed on it, should not be a deterrent for seeking the help you need. If a state licensing board has revoked or restricted your professional license, you will want to consult an attorney who specializes in professional license defense.

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