For a health care industry that was already stretched thin, the pandemic has brought many new challenges. Health care workers continue to work long hours, caring for patients who often do not recover from the disease. They have seen death and long-term illness in not only the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, but also in the young and otherwise healthy population. They have seen their friends, colleagues and family members infected by the disease in ways that we could not have imagined in early 2020.
Despite the many challenges that we all face, resources are available to help the general public, and there are some specifically for medical professionals. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7 free call service which connects the caller to compassionate, accessible care with experienced suicide prevention counselors. To reach the Lifeline, call toll free to 800-273-8255.
In 2020, Congress designated the new dialing code 988, to be used to quickly and easily connect a caller to the suicide prevention hotline. While it has taken some time to establish, on July 16, 2022, the new hotline will be fully operational. Even once the three-digit code is operational, you can continue to call 800-273-8255 if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or emotional distress.
Often, medical professionals facing stress, burnout or other mental health issues have been reluctant to seek counseling or any mental health services for fear that they would be reported to the State Medical Board of Ohio and possibly face public discipline or public monitoring. However, the Medical Board has enacted a non-disciplinary, confidential monitoring program for eligible licensees who have a mental or physical health problem or may need treatment or counseling to continue practicing safely. See Ohio Administrative Code 4731-28-01 for eligibility requirements Rule 4731-28-01 – Ohio Administrative Code | Ohio Laws
In addition, many employers offer free, confidential counseling and mental health services for their employees. Mental health professionals are encouraged to reach out to their employee assistance program (EAP) to seek their own confidential counseling or mental health services.
In Ohio, physicians and other medical health professionals should consider contacting the Ohio Physicians Health Program OhioPHP for an assessment and for assistance seeking counseling services.
As always, if you have any questions about this post or the State Medical Board in general, feel free to contact health care attorneys at Dinsmore and Shohl, Beth Collis (Beth.Collis@Dinsmore.com) or Todd Collis (Todd.Collis@Dinsmore.com).