No single thing drives a physician to feel unwell.
But physicians in smaller or rural counties may have nowhere to turn when burdens become too heavy. Freshly recommitted to its “Wellness First” mission, and with funding help from The Physicians Foundation, the Texas Medical Association has teamed up with the Texas-based counseling service Anticipate Joy to help.
Physicians in several Texas counties can find assistance in their county medical society’s counseling services: Bexar, Dallas, Harris, McLennan, and Travis county societies all have independent programs for mental health assistance, ranging from courses to confidential talks with psychiatrists.
However, resources are “not equitable across the state. So, TMA is filling in the gaps, especially helping to support our physician colleagues that are practicing in more rural areas or in counties that aren’t as resource-rich, so they also have the support they need as those colleagues oftentimes are practicing in more isolation,” said Michelle Owens, DO, a member of TMA’s Council on Health Service Organizations, and co-chair of the Travis County Medical Society’s Physician Wellness Program. “Being able to extend that olive branch so that they can feel supported and remembered and valued is really important.”
Anticipate Joy – led by two clinical psychologists, Karla Evans, PhD, and Veronica Tetterton, PhD – offers 30-minute counseling sessions via phone, video, or text. The program says it stands apart from other counseling services and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) because, among other reasons, clients are not limited to a set number of sessions, meaning they can build a long-term working relationship with their counselor.
Another key difference from EAPs is in privacy. Anticipate Joy uses a self-referral model, so members access the service through a URL distributed by TMA. The URL can be found on TMA’s Wellness First webpage, and TMA has disseminated a QR code that leads directly to the service.
Supervisors and TMA are not made aware a member requires mental health services. Anticipate Joy’s sessions are HIPAA-compliant; their counselors and program will never communicate to supervisors or TMA about appointments, participation, or treatment recommendations.
After scanning the QR code or accessing Anticipate Joy through the TMA webpage, physicians must create an account, which includes completing a brief intake. Then, they can purchase a session at a discounted rate of $25 and select a therapist. To find the best fit for each case, users can filter Anticipate Joy’s therapist network by clinical specialty, gender, and race.
Anticipate Joy’s network includes licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed clinical psychologists. More than 75% of the network has more than 10 years of experience. Once the chosen therapist has approved the request, the client can then select a suitable time.
Anticipate Joy says in the vast majority of cases, clients will have their initial appointment within days of their request.