Newswise — Park Ridge, Ill.  (AANA)—The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) has partnered with more than 50 national healthcare and mental health awareness organizations to support the introduction of the “Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act” (H.R. 8094) that supports behavioral health and well-being among healthcare professionals.

The AANA is a signatory to a letter from the Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG) that backs the legislation. According to the signatories, “healthcare professionals have long experienced high levels of stress and burn out, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues.” The bill is named after an emergency room physician who died by suicide during the pandemic.

“We must prioritize the mental health of our frontline medical professionals who are caring for some of our most vulnerable patients, and encourage help seeking behaviors for mental health concerns and substance use disorders by reducing stigma around seeking help,” cited the letter.  

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice registered nurses with leadership and expertise in airway and ventilation management and critical care—skills that have been essential in addressing the deadliest part of COVID-19.

Among other programs, the legislation creates grants to be awarded to healthcare providers, including medical professional associations such as the AANA, that establish or expand evidence-informed programs dedicated to promoting mental and behavioral health among their employees or members who are working on the front lines of the pandemic. It also sets up awareness campaigns encouraging healthcare professionals to seek support and treatment for mental health concerns.

“We must prioritize the mental health of our frontline medical professionals who are caring for some of our most vulnerable patients, and encourage help seeking behaviors for mental health concerns and substance use disorders by reducing stigma around seeking help,” stated the letter. 

Nurses who tend to patients with the coronavirus report more severe degrees of psychological distress such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia than other healthcare workers. Nurses are facing extraordinary workloads, often without adequate access to personal protective equipment (PPE). And, in recent surveys, nurses reported extreme to moderate concern about the safety of their family and friends (87 percent), about adequate testing (84 percent), and about access to PPE (75 percent).

The AANA has several resources addressing, promoting, and supporting the well-being of CRNAs and student registered nurse anesthetists. Learn more at www.aana.com.

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