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Christus Health participating in program to expand mental health to physicians, nurses

Healthcare providers can call and speak with another clinician who specializes in mental health as a way to combat depression and burnout.

SAN ANTONIO — As the pandemic continues, healthcare workers remain on the front lines, but recent studies show depression and anxiety has increased since March 2020. Christus health is trying to make sure their doctors are getting the support they need.

"They're way higher than the national average," said Dr. Linda Ray about the rates at which physicians report feeling depression. She is an Internist in Beaumont with Christus Health and Chairman of the Peer Support Program Clinicians Care PRN.

A study from the journal of the American Medical Association shows about 29 percent of physicians report depression symptoms. Women are also more at risk.

Ray said that’s only increased since the pandemic as well.

"COVID's been a hard time for many people," Dr. Ray said.

Early data shows nearly half (45.3%) of med students and doctors have screened positive for depression and anxiety (48.1%), according to a study from the National Library of Medicine.

Following the suicide of Dr. Lorna Breen, an ER doctor in New York City, hospital systems and different organizations looked at ways to mobilize resources.

"What can we do better? There's nothing worse.... than hearing your colleague as it killed themselves," Dr. Ray said.

That’s why Christus Health is participating in a program to get physicians and clinicians the help they need—called Clinicians Care Peer Resource Network.

"No one needs to care alone. And so there's a peer support national program, PR X Med, which was developed with that idea," Dr. Ray said.

Now, physicians and clinicians can call and speak with another clinician who specializes in mental health as a way to combat depression and burnout.

"It's really does encourage people to get mental health," she said.

It works in tiers and it’s set up in a way that facilitates a conversation. Physicians can speak to someone with similar experience and in a different region.

"We set this up is protected as we report to the board. So people we're not writing things down about them. We're simply reaching out as a colleague," Dr. Ray said.

They’ve opened the program up to nurse practitioners, too, so they can provide important care to those who provide care for us.

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