Two years of activity on the Tennessee Professional Screening Questionnaire (TN-PSQ) have shown the online mental health screening tool is helping to address the “parallel pandemic” affecting Tennessee health professionals in the era of COVID.
That according to TMF leaders who say data and user comments appear to confirm the new resource is reaching its intended population and goals. More than 400 individuals in health professions served by the TMF have utilized the site since it was launched in February 2020 as a proactive way to address rising mental health referrals to the Physician’s Health Program.
The TN-PSQ is a free, confidential, interactive online mental health screening tool based on the PHQ-9 questionnaire — a widely-accepted vehicle for self-assessment of common mental disorders; it offers a response from and optional anonymous interaction with a licensed mental health professional for further assistance and possible connection to nearby mental health resources.
Its target audience is health professionals who may not contact the TMF Physician’s Health Program directly; the goal is to reach them before a mental health condition leads to more serious problems affecting patient safety and/or resulting in a referral to the TMF or action by an employer or state licensing board.
On February 3, 2022, we reached two years of activity on the TN-PSQ. Overall data for the two-year period show the following results:
- 408 anonymous screenings submitted (238 in Year 1; 170 in Year 2)
- 85% were not already receiving treatment or therapy
- 74% reviewed counselor’s response
- 32% dialogued anonymously with counselor
- 72% requested an appointment or referral
- Tier 1A (high distress with suicidal thoughts, plans or behaviors) – 78 (19.1%)
- Tier 1B (high distress with no suicidal thoughts, plans or behaviors) – 146 (35.8%)
- Tier 2 (moderate distress) – 166 (40.7%)
- Tier 3 (low to no distress) – 18 (4.4%)
- Primary Care – 138 (33.8%)
- Specialist – 170 (41.7%)
- Prefer not to answer – 46 (11.3%)
- Did not provide an answer – 54 (13.2%)
- Employed Health Professional – 145
- Health Professional Faculty – 137
- Health Professional Student – 26
- Resident – 14
- Fellow – 6
- Other – 61
- Prefer not to answer – 19
- West TN/Memphis – 61
- West TN/Jackson – 17
- Middle TN/Nashville – 101
- Middle TN/Franklin – 12
- East TN/Chattanooga – 44
- East TN/Knoxville – 97
- East TN/Tri-Cities – 35
*Data from optional demographic questions, which not every screener chose to answer.
PARTICIPANT KEY CONCERNS
- Finding a provider with expertise working with physicians
- Grief and loss
- Financial stress
- Relationship stress
- Parental struggles
- Academic struggles
- Marital issues and divorce
- Chronic illness
- Confidentiality concerns
- Work-related conflict and stress
“Two things I like about the TN-PSQ is being able to keep my anonymity – I’m scared to be seen as unreliable or unfit for the field, and I’m extremely prideful – but more importantly, being able to talk through writing.”
“This is a great service to our state’s health professionals.”
“I thank you so much for helping me in any way you can – and for reading my story. I truly appreciate the work and effort you put into your job and the services of TN-PSQ.”
“I’m feeling very burdened by work, family and other things and the weight of it feels crushing. Difficult for me to admit vulnerability and I’m exhausted by trying to fix this alone. There is definitely a fear of judgment by others given my profession. I appreciate any help or direction you can provide.”
For more information about the TN-PSQ, visit e-tmf.org/tnpsq; to take the screening, visit tn.providerwellness.org.