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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Joint Commission: Remove Stigma for Clinicians Seeking Mental Healthcare

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

The novel coronavirus pandemic has put healthcare workers under tremendous mental strain, heightening the risk of post-traumatic stress disorders and even suicide. Counseling certainly can help, but clinicians may be reluctant to seek therapy for fear of stigma and questions from future employers.

The Joint Commission (TJC) is emphasizing that it has no requirement to seek such information, and it should not be a barrier to mental health therapy.

“[C]linicians have concerns that seeing a mental health professional could adversely affect their career if they are asked about a previous history of mental health issues during the credentialing or licensing process,” TJC states. “We strongly encourage organizations to not ask about past history of mental health conditions or treatment.”

As an alternative, TJC supports the recommendations of the Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Medical Association to limit inquiries to conditions that “currently impair the clinicians’ ability to perform their job.”

It is critical that healthcare workers can feel free to access mental health resources, the TJC states. It is encouraging accredited facilities to remove policies that “reinforce stigma and fear about the professional consequences of seeking mental health treatment.”

For more on this story, see the July 2020 issue of Hospital Employee Health.