West Virginia Medical Professionals Health Program

An alternative confidential program for licensees of the West Virginia Medical and Osteopathic Boards of licensure with substances use and/or mental health disorders.

Many people believe health professionals are immune to addiction and mental illness by virtue of their intelligence, education & dedication to helping others. In fact, health professionals develop substance use disorders (SUDS) at a rate equal to or in excess of the general population rate of 10-15% lifetime incidence. Depression is also as common in health professionals as in the general population with a lifetime prevalance of almost 16%. Suicide is found in higher rates for physicians at a 40% increase in male physicians and 2 times more common in female physicians. Physical illness has a 10% lifetime incidence. 

Perhaps more alarming are the barriers health professionals face in accessing treatment for addiction and/or mental health problems. The medical culture does not train health professionals to seek help or admit vulnerabilities. Fears of stigma, discrimination, loss of confidentiality, disciplinary action, licensing problems and career damage all result in health professionals seeking treatment at lower rates than the general population.

Difficulty in recognition, acknowledging and accepting addiction or mental illness and the need for help may lead to health professonals sacrificing all other areas of their lives to conserve their professional identity and ability to practice. As other areas of their lives deteriorate, the workplace is usually the last arena impacted. Yet, once identified and adequately treated, addiction and mental illness do not impair the professional's competence and need not impact the professional's credibility or continued ability to practice medicine. Early identification, intervention, diagnosis and treatment may be career and life saving. Another benefit of treatment is health professionals are better able to identify and treat addiction and mental illness in their own patients.

The West Virginia Medical Professionals Health Program (WVMPHP) is a physician-directed, non-profit organization founded by organized medicine in West Virginia to reach out to troubled colleagues. The WVMPHP is a confidential resource, to the maximum extent provided by law for any physician, podiatrist, or physician assistant and their spouses, domestic partners, families, employers, and colleagues who have concerns that a practitioner might be at risk for potential impairment.

The WVMPHP helps identify, refer for evaluation and/or treatment, monitor the recovery and endorse the safety of healthcare practitioners who have a mental or addictive illness, which could potentially affect their ability to practice with reasonable skill and safety. Some examples of these conditions are substance abuse or dependence (including alcohol), depressive disorder, bipolar mood disorder and anxiety disorders.

The confidentiality of the WVMPHP clients is protected to the maximum extent provided by existing State and Federal law.

The WVMPHP is dedicated to helping practitioners heal and, in so doing, to protect the safety of those practitioners' patients. For additional information, please visit our website at http://www.wvmphp.org/ or call 304-933-1030, or email bhallmd@wvmphp.org