May 18, 2020
ASTRO has joined 53 organizations in supporting Congressional efforts to provide mental health resources for health care workers. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8) led a bipartisan letter signed by 90 members of Congress, calling for the consideration of funding of mental health resources for health care workers.
The letter cites multiple studies which showcase the psychological stress among doctors and nurse on the front lines of outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic. These studies show both the immediate increases to feelings of depression, anxiety and distress among those frontline workers and long-term impacts to their mental health which persist long after the outbreak has ended. To properly address and learn even more about those mental health consequences, the representatives suggest a two-prong approach. First, the establishment of a grant program within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow health care employers to confidentially assess and treat the mental health of health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19 treatment. Secondly, the funding of a comprehensive study within HHS on health care worker mental health. The study would focus on identifying factors contributing to distress and burnout, barriers to accessing appropriate mental health treatment, the consequences for the health care system and the best ways to prevent and address these issues. Ultimately, the study should prioritize the mitigation of long-term mental health impacts on those frontline workers.