A new law is all set to provide federal funding to support the mental health of medical workers as the impact of COVID-19 still strains many medical facilities across the country.
US President Joe Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, named after a New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center emergency medicine physician who died by suicide in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic.
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It is reportedly said that the law is aimed toward supporting mental health education and awareness campaigns for health care workers.
“Health care professionals often forgo mental health treatment due to the significant stigma in both our society and the medical community, as well as due to the fear of professional repercussions,” said Angela Mills, MD, chair of emergency medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“This law will provide much needed funding to help break down the stigma of mental health care, providing education and training to prevent suicide, address other behavioral health issues, and improve well-being.”
According to media reports, Breen was recovering from COVID-19 and struggling both mentally and physically at the time, but chose to work 12-hour shifts.
Her family says she would stay well past the end of her shifts and became so overworked.
“She feared losing her medical licence and receiving criticism from colleagues if she let it be known that she was “suffering” from the workload,” her family said.
President Joe Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which allots federal funding for the mental health of medical workers, as the pandemic continues to strain medical facilities across the US.
“She was afraid to get help, because she was worried it would end the career that she had spent her entire life working for,” her loved one wrote in a statement on the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation website.
The foundation said it hopes the new law will prevent other health care worker suicides by providing medical staff with much-needed support.
The law will provide up to $135 million over three years to improve medical workers’ mental health.