The Frontline COVID-19 Provider Mental Health Resiliency Act referred to the Assembly Health Committee

Frontline health care workers are experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Frontline COVID-19 Provider Mental Health Resiliency Act of 2021 aims to address this issue.

Assembly Bill 562, introduced by Asm. Evan Low, would establish a temporary mental health resiliency program to provide additional services to frontline COVID-19 providers. 

 

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

 

Low said urgent action is needed to support these providers.

“If the true measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable people, we should be equally concerned with how well we support heroes who have been working nonstop during a generational crisis. The pandemic has placed our nurses, physicians, and frontline health care workers under enormous stress, and they’ve been carrying this unbelievable burden for nearly a year. The trauma they’ve experienced will not just go away when vaccines become ubiquitous and the pandemic comes to an end. We need urgent action to support these heroes by expanding access to mental and behavioral health services.”

AB 562 would require the Department of Consumer Affairs to work with relevant licensing boards and contract with one or more third-party vendors to provide free services to qualifying providers. This would include in-person and telehealth services to support mental and behavioral health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Other services would range from counseling and wellness coaching to providing online self-assessments and other mental and behavioral health services and tools. AB 562 also includes privacy protections for participants, ensuring they will not be penalized simply for signing up.

A survey conducted by UNAC/UHCP, which represents more than 32,000 California nurses and health care professionals, found that 10% of its members reported a lack of mental health resources needed to cope during the pandemic. Denise Duncan, president of UNAC/UHCP, said:

“What we’ve learned is the impact on frontline caregivers is devastating. As we’re honoring those who we’ve lost — our patients, our family members, and colleagues — I think it’s important for us to recognize that caregivers will have mental health needs going forward. We owe it to these heroes to provide mental health support if it is needed.”

In January, the California Health Care Foundation conducted a survey of 1,202 nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and behavioral health specialists in California, and findings showed that 59% of respondents said they were “burned out” from their work; 83% of those surveyed said not enough was being done to address the problems facing health care workers.

This bill, which has passed the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions on Wednesday, has moved to the Assembly Committee on Health and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.