How this New Law Can Help Healthcare Providers Seek Mental or Emotional Support Without Fear

Posted on March 16, 2022 by Mitchell Best, CEO

Updated January 10, 2024

On February 18, 2022, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act was passed in the Senate and is now awaiting the president’s signature in order to become a federal law. Once signed, it could be an integral achievement in uplifting physicians who are struggling day to day.

What is the Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act?

The Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act aims to prevent suicide, burnout and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals—all serious concerns that have been intensified by the pandemic. The goal is to remove barriers, such as stigma and fear of jeopardizing their career, for physicians seeking help. When signed, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will:

  • Establish grants for programs that offer behavioral health services.
  • Recommend strategies to facilitate health care provider well being.
  • Promote a campaign encouraging health care workers to seek help when needed.
  • Disseminate best practices to prevent suicide and build resiliency among health care providers.

The Bill is a major breakthrough at the national level to remove the weight of the white coat which carries a stigma with seeking help for mental and behavioral health in the medical profession. HHS funding to healthcare institutions to strategically plan, provide help and develop promotional efforts will be instrumental in breaking this stigma. When stigmatization is addressed systematically, it not only saves the lives of physicians, but also their patients by increasing the quality-of-care. Additionally, the funding provided to healthcare organizations to implement support programs indicates a national shift in embracing a positive culture of care in medicine.

National trends

Earlier legislation championed by the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) in 2020 resulted in a law protecting Virginia physicians. In this law, licensed healthcare workers can seek help without any licensing repercussions or reporting requirements to their Department of Health Professions. In a new partnership, MSV joined with VITAL WorkLife to launch SafeHaven, supporting individuals and organizations with well-being programs for physicians and providers who seek emotional, mental, and behavioral support for themselves. SafeHaven includes our Physician Well-Being resources which is a strategic, system-wide approach to helping physicians and providers in preventing and reducing professional burnout and encourage work/life integration. Leading healthcare organizations in the state of Virginia are investing long term in SafeHaven. Most recently, the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) has launched SafeHaven and several other states are considering doing the same in conjunction with local laws to support the well being of healthcare professionals.

VITAL WorkLife: The National Leader

At VITAL WorkLife, we started our Physician Well-Being resources consulting practice in 2007 to meet the needs of physicians and providers to help them navigate the magnitude of responsibility that comes with a professional healthcare provider. This includes facing unrealistic expectations related to duties, infallibility and being seen as all-knowing. Over these 15 years, we have become the national leader of solutions focused on the well being and health of clinicians with leading partners such as medical societies. We proudly serve a growing healthcare community serving today over 52,000 physicians, 60,000 nurses and over 165,000 healthcare employees across the nation. Our purpose and values drive us to help improve and transform the culture in healthcare and reduce the stigma associated with the weight of the white coat.

We Can Help

As part of our Well-Being Resources solutions through VITAL WorkLife, organizations and their clinicians have access to consultations with peer coaches and other senior level consultants whose expertise and passions are to help guide the healthcare workers through any challenges you they may be facing in work or in life. We are here to assist in improving any dimension of someone’s overall well-being including physical, relational, emotional, professional, meaning and purpose, legal and financial. To learn more about our proven process support the behavioral health needs of the clinicians please contact us to set up an appointment.

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