William Downie, who is working towards his certification as an LMHC (licensed mental health counselor), recently attended the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) Annual Conference, which took place April 26-28, 2022 in New Orleans, at the New Orleans Marriott.
The focus of the conference centered on two themes: Inclusivity and Destigmatization for healthcare professionals as they deliver PHP best practices. Presentations focused on overcoming barriers while addressing the evaluation, treatment, and monitoring of illness and conditions relevant to their work. This includes the stigma that accompanies mental health and substance use disorder in healthcare professionals.
The FSPHP Annual Education Conference is designed for physicians of all specialties, physician assistants, psychologists, attorneys, program developers, physical therapists, case managers, nurses, licensed social workers, toxicologists, scientific researchers, and clinical coordinators involved in physician and professional health programs. The expected attendance of the 2022 FSPHP Annual Education Conference was to be over 200 attendees.
The FSPHP states, “It is recognized that mental health stigma, bias, and discrimination may be the most important barriers to seeking help and to the well-being of health professionals. Eradicating mental health stigma, bias, and discrimination is a valuable end in itself, but it is also necessary to support cultures of wellness within healthcare that can effectively reduce and respond to burnout and mental health issues among healthcare workers.”
William Downie’s attendance represented BoardPrep Recovery Center of Tampa, Florida, whose clinicians have assessed and treated over 2,000 licensed health professionals from Florida and across the nation in the past 20 years through mental health and addiction treatment programs for professionals.
As BoardPrep Recovery Center clarifies, “Health Professionals, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and technicians, are not immune to substance use disorders or mental health problems. In fact, the stress associated with the health professions can lead to greater vulnerability to health problems of all kinds. Furthermore, depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders in healthcare professionals present specific challenges in treatment.”
William Downie’s interest in the subject matter is based on his own experience of treatment through the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step program, in which he remains active to this day. After exiting his own dental practice in Ohio, Downie relocated to Tampa and spent 6 months working through his 12 steps with the one-on-one help of a male sponsor. He now chairs meetings, has a sponsor and sponsors other men in the program.
Downie firmly believes that his 12-step program of choice, Alcoholics Anonymous or AA, is what has accelerated him to be the best version of himself. He practices the principles of honesty, willingness, and openness in all his affairs. Being in recovery has guided Downie’s life work to focus on being of service to others.
Before relocating to Tampa to pursue his treatment program, Downie attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Statistics, graduating Cum Laude with University Honors. Following his undergraduate studies, he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from Indiana University School of Dentistry, graduating with Highest Distinction Honors, tied for first in class. Downie went on to practice dentistry for a little over eight years, first in his father’s practice, then in his own practice. Downie is now completing his Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Hodges University.
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