In the United States, 400 physicians die each year by suicide, twice the rate of the general population. Medical students have rates of depression 15 to 30 percent higher than the general population, with depression being a major risk factor in physician suicide.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) recognizes the real threat mental health issues pose to our society, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health professionals, who were at a high risk for mental health challenges before the pandemic, now face an even greater risk of depression, burnout, addiction and suicide. To help address these serious concerns, AACOM is asking our community to join us in advocating for the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act.
The bill is named after Dr. Lorna Breen, the New York City emergency room physician who died by suicide after treating COVID-19 patients. Passed unanimously by the Senate on August 6, 2021, it aims to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout and mental and behavioral health conditions among health professionals.
The World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Day on October 10 helped raise awareness of mental health issues and mobilized efforts in support of mental health worldwide. Let’s build on the momentum generated on that day to continue raising our voice in support of mental health. With the Senate’s unanimous commitment to this important cause, your advocacy in urging the House of Representatives to take similarly strong action on this issue will progress our nation toward real, lasting, positive change for health professionals and patients across the country.
Take action now!
For more information about the mental health challenges faced by the osteopathic medical education community, view AACOM’s conversation with a resident physician and medical student about their perspectives regarding mental health and wellbeing, and read a guest post by a recent AACOM Osteopathic Health Policy Intern on the importance of advocating for health professionals’ mental health.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.