Increasing mental health referrals to the TMF Physician’s Health Program have led the Foundation to develop a new online mental health resource for use by licensed health professionals across Tennessee. The resource, an online screening tool, will be available statewide through the TMF and other healthcare partners beginning February 2020.
The TMF will be the first Physician’s Health Program in the country to utilize the Interactive Screening Program (ISP), an online tool created by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The TMF plans to use it to help address increasing rates of burnout, depression, and suicide among physicians and other licensed medical professionals.
“As the number of mental health referrals began to rise, we saw the need to become more proactive in this area,” said TMF Medical Director Dr. Michael Baron. “The goal is to connect more people to the help they need, earlier in the process, hopefully before there’s a need for a TMF referral, intervention by employers, or licensing board action,” he added.
“There are known barriers to getting help for mental health problems among doctors and other licensed health professionals,” said TMF Administrator Mike Todd. “Confidentiality and existing stigma over seeking help, fears of career implications, and the perceived time and cost involved are all factors that can stop them from reaching out when they probably need it the most,” he said.
Working in partnership, the AFSP and TMF are customizing the ISP tool for the licensed health professionals served by the PHP. It will be used strictly as a NON-crisis service, offering an anonymous, confidential online mental health screening that will result in referrals to appropriate mental health resources and optional interaction with a program therapist.
“This tool will be totally anonymous, voluntary, and the outcome completely driven by the user,” Dr. Baron said, adding this should address some of the fears involved in asking for help with mental or emotional illness.
Details to Come
Watch for the statewide launch starting next month from the TMF about this new resource on this website, in the mail, in partnering healthcare publications or communications, or in our next issue of Physician Health. For more information, contact Brenda Williams-Denbo, TMF Development coordinator, at 615-467-6411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.