Congress now has under consideration the “Lorna Breen Act,” a bill aimed at providing mental health services for health care providers. It is named for a woman, and a doctor, who committed suicide in April 2020, under the pressure of the constant crisis conditions she faced in the emergency room of a New York City hospital in the throes of the first wave of Covid there.
In the United States, there remains a prejudice that certain sorts of medicine, certain health issues, are the “real” issues, whereas other issues, the unreal ones, are “mental” and a less serious concern. It would be an ironic but important silver lining were one of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, now in the US and in much of the developed world receding at last, to teach society that mental diseases are very real and their treatment a very serious matter.
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“We got a head start on this bill because we got about $140 million in the American Rescue Plan to start to provide some of the services,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Tim Kaine (D – Va.), who was Hillary Clinton’s Vice-Presidential candidate in 2016. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), would determine the best providers to deliver mental health services to fellow health care providers