To better support licensees in seeking the care they need without anxiety or trepidation, on April 6, 2023, the Board voted to remove intrusive and stigmatizing language around mental health care and treatment from licensure applications and renewals. The advisory statement uses supportive language around mental health and holds licensees and applicants accountable for their own well-being. The model makes it clear that self-care is patient care.
The advisory statement and attestation were included in applications effective June 1, 2023:
While there is still work to be done, this is a significant step in removing barriers to support and protecting licensees' mental health and wellbeing.
The Oregon Wellness Program (OWP)
The Board supports a proactive, broad approach to licensee wellness. The Board's prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation efforts have led to the inception of a statewide initiative known as the Oregon Wellness Program. This program "promotes the wellness of health care professionals through education, coordinated regional counseling services, telemedicine services, and research." Services are currently available statewide for both in-person and telehealth visits.
More information on the Oregon Wellness Program is available at oregonwellnessprogram.org.
Federal Bill Passes Intended to Reduce Stigma Faced By Health Care Professionals When Seeking Mental Health Services
The President signed into law an Act that establishes grants and requires other activities to improve mental and behavioral health among health care providers. Public Law 117-105, called the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, named for an ED physician who took her own life in April 2020 after treating patients with COVID-19. Section 3(a) specifically notes "(1) to encourage health care professionals to seek support and care for their mental health or substance use concerns, to help such professionals identify risk factors associated with suicide and mental health conditions, and to help such professionals learn how best to respond to such risks, with the goal of preventing suicide, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders; and (2) to address stigma associated with seeking mental health and substance use disorder services.
Other Available Wellness Programs
Continuing Education on Suicide Risk
Suicide is a major public health issue and among the leading causes of death in Oregon. There are more than 650 suicides in Oregon each year, and more than 2,000 hospitalizations due to suicide attempts. Individuals who attempt suicide, when not fatal, can have lasting health problems that may include brain damage, organ failure, depression and other mental health problems. Suicide also affects survivors and communities. In addition, suicide and other self-inflicted injuries result in an estimated $41.2 billion in combined medical and work loss costs in the United States annually.
In 2018, all health professional licensing boards in Oregon began reporting on whether licensees are taking continuing education on suicide risk assessment, treatment, and management. Senate Bill 48 (2017) requires licensees to report any such continuing education when renewing their state license to practice. The Oregon Medical Board encourages your participation in continuing education on this important public health issue. All continuing education on this topic is considered relevant to the practice of all licensees, regardless of specialty. These continuing education hours may be used to fulfill your required ongoing education to maintain your license.