Early in the pandemic, MSSC organized a list of local therapists and psychiatrists willing to see physicians and their staff members. It is now expanding those resources by adding a teletherapy option.
MSSC is partnering with The Battle Within and Frontline Therapy Network to offer teletherapy services to physicians. MSSC members can receive up to six free, confidential teletherapy sessions with a vetted therapist.
MSSC also is partnering with WorkWell KS to provide free resources for other health care team members.
“Being a physician is always challenging, but the past two-plus years have been extraordinarily difficult,” MSSC Executive Director Phillip Brownlee said. “We hope these expanded resources make it easier for physicians to access support.”
The teletherapy option could be more convenient to the hectic schedules of some physicians. It also can be more private.
“Therapy sessions are confidential and considered privileged communications,” Brownlee said. “And with teletherapy, physicians also don’t need to worry about a patient or trial lawyer seeing them in a therapist waiting room.”
The U.S. surgeon general issued an advisory on May 23 sounding the alarm on health worker burnout, including physicians. His recommendations included ensuring “on-demand counseling and after work hours care are more accessible.
The Battle Within is an Olathe-based organization that was formed to serve veterans. During the pandemic, it realized frontline health care workers also were experiencing trauma and high stress and needed support. Working with the University of Kansas Health System and other partners, the organization expanded to offer teletherapy to health care workers.
All therapists are licensed and vetted by The Battle Within. The organization said it will not make referrals unless it feels confident the therapist is well prepared to provide the care a physician needs. If therapists believe a physician may benefit from medication, they will help connect the physician with a psychiatrist.
Physicians who are interested in teletherapy can complete an application at www.thebattlewithin.org/ frontline-therapy-network. A psychotherapist will respond, usually the same business day, and conduct a basic assessment in order to connect the physician with the network therapist most ideal to support his or her needs. The physician and therapist will then coordinate and schedule the first free session.
If a physician wants to continue seeing the therapist beyond the initial six sessions, it may be possible to extend the free sessions. If not, the physician can arrange to pay using insurance or cash.
MSSC’s partnership with WorkWell KS offers help to other health care team members. The program, which is based at KUSM-W, will offer evidence-based services to medical practices, at no cost, aimed at improving employee well-being. Free resources include training for employees on mindfulness and stress management. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit workwellks.com.