Congress passes clinician mental health bill: 5 things to know

Congress has passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to improve the mental health and well-being of healthcare workers. 

Five things to know:

1. The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in March 2021. The Senate passed the bill a first time in August 2020 and a second time Feb. 17, 2022, after the House passed an amended version Dec. 8, 2021. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden for signature into law.

2. Under the bill, HHS must award grants for training health profession students, residents and healthcare professionals to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions and substance use disorders, according to the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes' Foundation. The grants are for hospitals, medical professional associations and other healthcare entities.

3. The foundation said the bill also establishes:

  • A national education and awareness initiative to encourage healthcare workers to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns.
  • Grants for employee education, peer-support programming, and mental and behavioral health treatment.
  • A comprehensive study on mental and behavioral health and burnout among healthcare workers, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is named for Lorna Breen, MD, who was chair of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in New York City. Dr. Breen died by suicide April 26, 2020, toward the beginning of the pandemic.

5. The American Medical Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Hospital Association and the American Psychiatric Association are among the healthcare organizations that support the bill.

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