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Seeking help should not be a career-ender


A confidential resource for health providers

In response to the excellent op-ed by Dr. Elissa Ely, “When doctors are afraid to seek help” (Opinion, May 1), Physician Health Services Inc. heartily agrees that healthy physicians equals healthy patients. PHS, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Massachusetts Medical Society, exists to provide a confidential place for physicians and medical students in Massachusetts to request help, consultation, education, and services relating to a health condition, and it has helped thousands of physicians, residents, and students.

Every day, PHS helps with the grief, trauma, burnout, substance misuse, and other behavioral health challenges that have been amplified by the magnitude of the pandemic health care crisis. Access to PHS is no cost, provides confidentiality comparable to medical peer review, and is a phone call away, at 781-434-7404.


Dr. Mary Anna Sullivan

Medical director

Physician Health Services Inc.


Military, take note

Re “When doctors are afraid to seek help”: There are similar problems in other professions and fields, but one that affects national security is that members of the military can almost be assured their career will end if they seek psychiatric help.

In 1955, as a second lieutenant on an isolated assignment, I felt depressed after receiving a Dear John letter and sought help. I saw the hospital commander by chance, for consultation. At the end of my visit, he pointed out that he would record my visit as some physical problem because medical records are open to promotion boards and if he recorded the true reason I could forget about a military career.

I don’t think the Department of Defense has done much to change this. Are these the people we want to defend us?

Irwin B. Abrams