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SEMPA has joined other leading organizations in releasing a joint statement in which emergency medicine and other leading medical associations, academics and psychiatry experts outline steps to support the mental health of clinicians currently risking their lives to treat patients during this pandemic.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic has added a significant amount of stress and challenges to the baseline difficulties of the practice of emergency medicine,” says SEMPA President Ann Verhoeven, MMSc, PA-C. “In recognizing this, SEMPA advocates for protective policies and laws to support the physical and mental health wellness of health care clinicians.
Optimal physical and mental health of medical clinicians is conducive to the optimal health and safety of patients, the joint statement reads. Health care professionals should feel comfortable seeking treatment for psychiatric symptoms, just as anyone else should. A health professionals’ history of mental illness or substance use disorder (SUD) treatment should not be used as an indicator of their current or future ability to competently practice medicine.
These leading medical groups believe that credentialing entities should refrain both from discouraging health care professionals from seeking professional help and from dissuading them from joining peer support groups. There should be no reprisals for a clinician who engages in such therapeutic endeavors.
According to the statement, “For most clinicians, seeking treatment for mental health triggers legitimate fear of resultant loss of licensure, loss of income or other career setbacks. Such fears are known to deter health care professionals from accessing necessary mental health care. Seeking care should be strongly encouraged, not penalized.”