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Doctors are scared to get mental health help

(Reuters Health) – Almost 40 percent of physicians in the US UU They are reluctant to seek mental health care for fear of A recent study suggests that it could jeopardize their medical license.

The reluctance was most pronounced in states where license applications questioned doctors about mental health conditions that go back more than a year. Physicians in those states were at least 20 percent more likely to report that they would be reluctant to seek psychological treatment than doctors in states that only asked about the current impairment.

"The questions of the medical leave application are getting in the way of very treatable mental health disorders and probably contribute to the high rates of suicide among doctors," said lead author Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, a professor of mental health. medicine and medical education at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Previous research has found that some state health boards can punish doctors just for a mental health diagnosis, writes the Dyrbye team in the Mayo Clinic procedures. Other studies have found that disclosure of mental health conditions on license forms can lead to overt or covert professional discrimination, they add.

Each state has its own process for licensing physicians. The Federation of State Medical Boards advises licensing boards not to ask about mental health records and states that doing so could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Dyrbye and colleagues note.


"Our own licensing system is creating a barrier to getting help," said Dr. Katherine Gold, a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who was not involved in the new research. "Doctors fear properly losing their license or having restrictions on their license, so, of course, they hesitate to seek care."

The hesitation of physicians to seek psychological and psychiatric treatment is particularly worrisome, he said, because previous research has shown that doctors, as a group, suffer from high rates of depression and suicide.

"We must do everything possible to reduce the stigma and encourage doctors to get exactly the same attention that we would prescribe to our own patients," he said.

Dyrbye and her team analyzed the initial and renewal medical license application forms from all but three states, along with responses from more than 5,800 physicians to a survey of their attitudes about seeking mental health treatment.

The researchers found that 32 of the 48 state licensing boards continue to question doctors about their mental health history. Of 5,829 survey participants, 2,325 reported that the possible repercussions of answering questions about their mental health in license applications would make them reluctant to seek treatment.

The Dyrbye team describes the mental health history leave questions as "A major obstacle" for physicians with problems seeking help.

The American Psychiatric Association has found no evidence that a doctor who has been treated for a mental illness is more likely than a doctor with no history of mental health care to harm a patient, Dyrbye said in a telephone interview.


"We want to raise barriers to take care of mental health conditions before doctors are cured," she said. He said. "We need people to help earlier in the process. Our goal is to improve the working lives of doctors so that they can provide excellent and compassionate care to their patients. "

Dyrbye and Gold asked state licensing boards to limit requests of Renewal and Requests "We have no evidence that a patient's previous episode of depression or anxiety represents any risk to the patient's care," Gold said. "There is no evidence that a physician's depression or anxiety episode represents No risk to patient care, "said Gold.

" So, instead of protecting patients, these questions basically serve to stigmatize doctors. "

Dr. Thomas Schwenk, dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, also requested that questions about the prior history of mental illness be removed from medical licenses and renewal applications.

Certainly, doctors remember answering questions about whether they sought mental health care in their license applications when they could later really consider get attention, said Schwenk, who was not involved in the study.

accepted and appropriate ways for state licensing boards to ask about the doctors' disability, and I hope this study will that the licensing boards consider those changes, "he said by email.

SOURCE: Procedures of the Mayo Clinic, online on October 2, 2017.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for National Suicide Pr Evention Lifeline. You can also send a text message with HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour assistance from the crisis text line. Outside the US UU., Visit in the International Association for the Prevention of Suicide to obtain a database of resources.

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