SILVER SPRING, MD— The American Nurses Association (ANA) hails the passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S. 610/H.R. 1667) by the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation will direct $140 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319) to train current and future health professionals on how to prevent suicide, burnout, and substance use disorders. The legislation will be sent back to the Senate, which passed the bill this summer, to approve the final text. The bill is named for Dr. Lorna Breen, who tragically died by suicide after being consumed by feelings of helplessness and despair while treating COVID-19 patients.
Key provisions in the bill will establish a national evidence-based education and awareness initiative to encourage health care professionals to seek support and care for their mental health and substance use concerns. This initiative will also teach health care professionals how to identify and respond to the risk factors associated with suicide, mental health issues, and substance use disorders while reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for them. A reporting mandate also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide an update on the progress of this initiative to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives no later than two years after the bill is enacted.
“I am pleased that the U.S. Congress recognizes the importance of this legislation and is committed to investing in the mental health of our nursing and health care workforce,” said ANA President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Our nation’s nurses have been working under extraordinary duress created by the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years, and this legislation will provide critical resources and programs to help relieve suffering from fatigue, burnout, and depression. Thank you to Representatives Susan Wild (D-PA) and David McKinley (R-WV) for their unwavering leadership, and to all the members of Congress who supported this bill.”
ANA is committed to advocating for the needs of nurses and supporting their mental health and well-being. According to a survey of more than 9,500 by the American Nurses Foundation (the Foundation) in October of 2021, close to half (42%) of nurse respondents answered “yes”, when asked if they have had an extremely stressful, disturbing, or traumatic experience due to COVID-19. ANA’s Nurse Suicide Prevention website offers resources, toolkits, and information to mitigate the risk of nurse suicide. The Foundation has developed the Well-being Initiative, a collection of resources designed to help nurses take the necessary steps to manage the stress and overcome the trauma caused by COVID-19.
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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4.3 million registered nurses. ANA advances the profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org.
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