New Law Funds Support for Health Care Workers’ Mental Health

Posted Saturday, April 2, 2022

On March 18, 2022, President Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act into law on March 18, 2022. The law is named for Dr. Lorna Breen, who served as the Medical Director of New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital before her suicide in April 2020, a death her family attributes to the immense mental, emotional, and physical toll that responding to the first COVID-19 surge in New York City took on her well-being.

Dr. Breen declined getting help for the stress she was experiencing because she was concerned that seeking mental health support would negatively impact her career and ostracize her from colleagues. The law will direct $140 million in grant funding over the next 3 years for training programs on treatment to reduce burnout for health care professionals, offer mental health services and prevent deaths by suicide by health care workers. A recent study found that home care workers report poor mental health at double what typical American workers experience.

Funding for the law’s implementation was included in last year’s American Rescue Plan Act, over $100 million of which has already been allocated to 46 institutions across the country working to help health care professionals. Grantee organizations must use the funding to establish or enhance evidence-based or evidence-informed programs dedicated to improving mental health and resilience in the health professional workforce. Hospitals, community health centers, rural health clinics, and medical professional associations, among other health care entities, are eligible to receive these grants and contracts. In awarding these grants and contracts, HHS must give priority to entities that are in health professional shortage areas or in rural areas. Examples of the kinds of activities that can be supported by the grants include:

  • Improving awareness among health care providers about risk factors and signs of suicide, mental health, or substance use disorders
  • Establishing or enhancing programs for suicide prevention and the improvement of mental health and resilience amongst health care providers
  • Providing mental health care, follow up, or referrals to such services and care to health care providers
  • Creating or improving peer-support programs for health care providers.

Source: NAHC

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