The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) applauds the passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (H.R.1667), legislation that takes significant steps to prevent physician suicide, reduce burnout, and address major concerns about the mental health of emergency physicians and care teams.
“ACEP is grateful that Congress recognizes the weight of the challenges shouldered by medical professionals on the frontlines throughout the pandemic,” said Gillian Schmitz, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “This important legislation honors Dr. Breen’s legacy and charts a path forward that helps limit the barriers currently preventing many emergency physicians from seeking the mental health care they need.”
The legislation calls for behavioral health and wellbeing training programs, a national campaign to encourage health care professionals to seek support and treatment, a federal study into health care professional mental health and burnout, and grants to establish and expand mental health support services.
Emergency medicine is an extraordinarily challenging profession with more than 65% of emergency physicians and residents indicating that they experience burnout during their careers, according to research in Annals of Emergency Medicine. Despite the toll of serving on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, many emergency physicians hesitate to prioritize their mental health.
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