The AAMC endorsed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S. 4349) on Aug. 13, which authorizes several initiatives to address suicide, mental health, and burnout among health professionals.
In a letter endorsing the legislation, the AAMC stated, “There are numerous systemic and other sources for the high levels of stress and burnout that have long plagued health professionals, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is only exacerbating the problem. Yet, stigma, bias, and other barriers can hinder health professionals from seeking and receiving care for new or ongoing mental and behavioral health challenges.”
The legislation, which was introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.), would authorize Health Resources and Services Administration Title VII grants for training health professions students, residents, or professionals in evidence-informed strategies to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders.
The bill would also establish a national evidence-based education and awareness campaign through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that encourages health care professionals to seek support and treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns. It would also launch two comprehensive studies on health care professional mental and behavioral health and burnout, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on such professionals’ health.
Acknowledging that educational interventions on their own cannot resolve the multiple factors leading to high rates of burnout and self-harm among health professionals, the AAMC praised the authors for taking steps through the bill to raise awareness about the importance of promoting well-being and encouraged them to make teaching hospitals eligible awardees as well.