#STOPTHESTIGMA: Reintroducing The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act as Mental Health Awareness Month approaches

By: Cristina N. Hyde, JD

Last August, Campanella Law Office highlighted the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S. 610 and HR 1667) and the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation .  While the full content of that post can be found here, we are motivated to revisit this critical piece of legislation in anticipation of mental health awareness month and happy to announce that several important provisions were included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021.

The Act is an unapologetic tribute to Dr. Lorna Breen and too many other healers who have succumbed to suicide or suffered from the critically high degree of burnout and stress that plagues our professionals; particularly against a backdrop of COVID-19.  It is a call to create national awareness of the mental and behavioral health conditions affecting our health care providers and to provide stigma-free access to critical support and treatment so that they no longer suffer in silence due to fear of professional repercussions.

Reintroduced to Congress in early March and currently pending review, key goals of the Act include:

  • The creation of a more caring profession where mental health challenges are acknowledged, mental health resources are available, and individuals needing those resources are encouraged.
  • The reduction/prevention of suicide, burnout and other mental/behavioral health conditions among health care professionals.
  • The establishment of grants for training heath care professionals, residents and students on how to improve their mental well-being and job satisfaction.
  • The identification and distribution of evidence-based best practices for combatting burnout and suicide.
  • The creation of a national education and awareness campaign targeting health care professionals and that would encourage obtaining support and treatment when necessary.
  • The creation of grants for employee education, peer support programming, and mental/behavioral health treatment with a special focus on providers in COVID-19 hotspots.
  • The initiation a comprehensive study on health care professional mental health needs including the impact of COVID-19 on our providers.

Although the Act was not included in its entirety, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, does include aspects critical to the training of health care professionals on strategies to reduce burnout, the reduction of the stigma that currently exists as a barrier to mental health care, and the provision of support to the employers of frontline providers so that they might offer better care for their workers’ mental health needs.

If you would like help honor the work and sacrifice of our health care community, you can contact your legislators in support of the entire Act here.

More importantly, if you are in crisis, Campanella Law Office begs you not to struggle alone.  Reach out for help and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Crises Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

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