Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Issues
Professional license holders work in demanding fields that can often induce high stress levels. Unfortunately, professionals are not immune to mental health issues or substance abuse disorders. In fact, some professions tend to experience higher-than-average incidences of these issues—particularly those professions involving high-stress working conditions or access to controlled substances. In situations where a licensing agency suspects a license holder is suffering from a mental health issue or substance abuse disorder that impairs his or her ability to practice safely, the agency will intervene and may impose discipline.
The Department of Consumer Affairs and licensing boards under its direction have implemented uniform standards designed to address licensees who may be impaired due to mental health issues or substance abuse disorders. These standards are designed to protect the public and include minimum conditions for evaluation, treatment, and chemical testing. In addition, the standards exclude licensees from practicing while participating in a diversion program or while on probation until a finding is made that the licensee is fit to practice safely.
Where a violation involves drugs or alcohol, the uniform standards adopted by some boards dictate that the license holder is presumed to be a substance-abusing licensee. Other boards may order a license holder suspected of substance abuse to undergo a clinical diagnostic evaluation to determine whether or not the individual is a substance-abusing licensee. If the licensee is unable to rebut the presumption or has been determined to be a substance-abusing licensee, conditions relating to substance abuse monitoring, treatment, and discipline may result.