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NYC Health + Hospitals Recognized For Reducing Physician Mental Health Stigma

The health system earned the award by removing invasive mental health questions on physician credentialing applications

NYC Health + Hospitals has been recognized as a 2024 WellBeing First Champion for its efforts to remove invasive mental health questions on physician credentialing applications. According to a 2023 survey by the Physicians Foundation, four in 10 physicians were either afraid or knew another physician fearful of seeking mental health care given questions asked in applications for medical licensure, credentialing, or insurance.

“When doctors feel like they have to choose between providing care for others and seeking it for themselves, we exacerbate our health care crisis and deny New Yorkers the help they deserve. That is why NYC Health + Hospitals has been a national leader in removing invasive mental health questions from physician credential applications and ending the dangerous stigma around this issue,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

As an example, a reference form for a clinician applying to work at NYC Health + Hospitals used to include the following question about the applicant’s health status: Have you observed or been informed of any chemical dependency, physical or mental health problems which might affect the applicant’s ability to perform in a competent manner? This past year, NYC Health + Hospitals replaced this question with the following: Have you observed any health problems which might affect the applicant's ability to perform in a competent manner?

If “Yes” is selected, the information is communicated confidentially to Occupational Health Services to ensure the medical staff applicant is provided the appropriate support needed to be successful in his or her role.

“We are very proud of our efforts to eliminate invasive credentialing questions and prioritizing the mental health of our front-line staff," said NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Machelle Allen, MD. "We would like to thank the ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare coalition for recognizing our work in this area.”

This work is part of the health system’s commitment to the mental health and wellness of its frontline staff. In March, NYC Health + Hospitals announced a partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to implement the Interactive Screening Program, an online self-screening tool for staff to connect to peer and clinical support before a potential crisis emerges. In addition, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Helping Healers Heal program offers emotional first aid to health care providers who are suffering from workplace stress or anxiety and may be at high risk of depression caused by the demanding circumstances of the job and unexpected patient outcomes.