Virginia legislators push for more funding in mental health services for healthcare workers

The bill is named in memory of Dr. Lorna Breen

The pandemic has taken a big toll on frontline health care workers and a Virginia lawmaker is pushing for more money toward mental health resources.

ROANOKE, Va – A Virginia lawmaker is pushing for an increase in funding for mental health resources for healthcare workers.

The push comes nearly a year after Dr. Lorna Breen took her own life in Charlottesville. Her family never saw it coming.

“The thing that’s been so crushing about this experience to our family is that she did not have mental health challenges, she didn’t struggle with depression or anxiety,” Lorna’s sister Jennifer Breen Feist said.

Thousands of frontline workers have been struggling with mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Tim Kaine introduced the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act in hopes of providing immediate and long-term solutions for them.

“The bill that is currently pending in the Senate which I’m confident is going to pass by the end of the week includes $80 million to train, both health care professionals and public safety off officers in strategies to reduce, and address suicide burnout in mental and behavioral health conditions,” Kaine said.

Healthcare providers like Emily Boucher say the relief is a long time coming.

“It’s just shift after shift after shift you come in and lose patients, you know, you work so hard doing everything you can for weeks for these patients and then you would still lose so many and it would leaves you with this feeling of just helplessness and hopelessness sometimes,” Registered Nurse Emily Boucher said.

Lorna Breen’s family has also started a foundation in her honor, for more information visit its website here.

About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.