Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act becomes law: 4 details

On March 18, President Joe Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, a law that will provide federal funding to address behavioral health and well-being among healthcare workers.

The law is named for Lorna Breen, MD, a New York City emergency physician who died by suicide April 26, 2020, toward the beginning of the pandemic.

Overall, the law provides up to $135 million over three years for training healthcare providers on suicide prevention and behavioral health, and for awareness efforts to improve mental health among healthcare workers, according to the White House.

Four key details from the law:

1. Grants for training healthcare workers. The law establishes grants for training of healthcare students, residents or healthcare professionals in evidence-informed strategies to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions and substance use disorders. The grants will also go toward evidence-informed strategies to boost healthcare workers' well-being and job satisfaction. The grants will be available to health professions schools, academic health centers, state or local governments, or other appropriate public or private nonprofit entities.

2. Education and awareness campaign. The law includes establishing an education and awareness campaign encouraging healthcare professionals to use available mental and behavioral health services for their own concerns. The campaign will also include information to help healthcare workers identify and appropriately respond to mental health-related risk factors in themselves and others.

3. Grants for promoting mental and behavioral health. Grants will be available for healthcare providers to promote mental and behavioral health among their workforces. HHS will award these grants to healthcare providers, including medical professional associations, to establish or expand evidence-informed programs to promote mental and behavioral health among their employees (including contractors). For instance, according to the law, grant funding could go toward establishing new or enhancing current peer-support programs among employees.

4. Study on healthcare worker mental and behavioral health and burnout. The law establishes a study on mental and behavioral health and burnout among healthcare workers. HHS, in consultation with stakeholders, will conduct the study and submit policy recommendations to Congress. Among other things, the study will focus on identifying factors that contribute to mental and behavioral health conditions and burnout among healthcare workers. It will also focus on barriers to mental and behavioral healthcare for healthcare workers. 

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