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Augusta Health removes mental health language from credentialing applications

Crystal Graham
nurse stress
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Augusta Health has been recognized as a WellBeing First Champion for Healthcare, a designation given to health care systems whose credentialing applications are free from intrusive language around mental health care and treatment.

Practitioners at Augusta Health may now seek the mental health care without fear of losing their license or job.

Augusta Health is one of nine healthcare systems in Virginia to receive the designation. Augusta Health recognized providers Mahfux Hoq, MD, MPH; Brian Stisser, MD; and Susie Jones, MD, for their involvement in the initiative.

Augusta Health learned of the opportunity through its partnership with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Due to heightened impacts and traumatic exhaustion from the pandemic, providers fear that seeking care or services will create stigma, loss of licensure, discrimination or privacy violations.

“Across the country, health workers are at an increased risk for burnout and mental health challenges,” said Corey Feist, co-founder of ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare and president of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation. “Many health workers feel they cannot speak up about their mental health being criticized by colleagues or losing their jobs.

“Today, physicians and nurses die by suicide at two times the rate of the general population,” Feist said. “We as a nation must better protect these lives, and I applaud our WellBeing First Champions for their leadership to support the well-being of health workers.”

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.