Legislation and Policy
Healthcare worker mental health legislation is a growing area of policy creation in recent years. Legislative policy has focused primarily on grant establishment, improving access, and physician licensing.
Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
In 2022, President Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. The bill aims to improve mental health care for healthcare professionals by: establishing grants for education, developing evidence-based strategies to reduce mental health conditions, and expanding mental health services; creating a national campaign to encourage healthcare workers to prioritize mental health care; and funding federal research on healthcare worker mental health. We recommend you also look into the work that the Lorna Breen Foundation is doing (https://drlornabreen.org/about-the-legislation/).
Health Resources and Services Administration
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $103 million of the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan funds to improve healthcare worker retention by reducing burnout and and promoting mental health and wellness in healthcare workers. The awards were provided to three programs which establish evidence-based programs and training to promote mental health, with a particular focus on providers in rural and underserved communities.
Joint Commission and Federation of State Medical Boards
Historically, state medical license, credentialing, and insurance applications asked broad and probing questions about mental health history and clinical competency, which are potential violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. There is growing body of evidence showing that asking these questions deters physicians from seeking mental health care, with data showing that 40% of physicians were afraid to seek care because of them. Meanwhile, there is no data demonstrating that asking these questions protect the public, as potential risk of harm cannot be inferred from a diagnosis or treatment alone.
In 2018, the Joint Commission and Federation of State Medical Boards strongly encouraged organizations to not ask these questions and since then there has been movement to audit and change these questions, but there’s still more work to be done as most states still have not fully adopted the recommendations. However, there is still much to do: a 2021 study from the Emotional PPE Project examined which states were consistent with the recommendations and found that give states were found to be inconsistent with all 4 recommendations and only 1 state was consistent with all recommendations.