WAVY: Lawmakers, experts want more mental health services available to healthcare workers

WAVY (NEXSTAR), BASIL JOHN

Lawmakers are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing strain on medical professionals.

“There’s going to be a significant challenge in terms of mental health needs that will go on for a long term after this,” Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said.

Kaine says he’s seen doctors and nurses deal with overwhelming stress.

“You can’t see that much suffering without it having a dramatic effect on you,” Kaine said.

Both Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner believe mental health resources need to be easily available.

“Access to mental health services should be considered across the board as one would consider a regular checkup,” Spanberger said.

“They ought to be able to get the kind of healthcare they need, and that will probably be treatment that will take much longer than the virus,” Warner said.

Organizations like the American Psychological Association say Congress needs to make sure mental health resources are fully-funded.

“Making mental health benefits much more reasonable and equitable with other kinds of health care benefits would be a tremendous help,” Dr. Susan McDaniel, a psychologist with the University of Rochester medical center, said.

McDaniel says she’s regularly checking up on nurses and doctors at her facility.

“Try to prevent some of the burnout and tragedy, for example, what happened with the emergency medicine physician in New York,” McDaniel said.

Kaine says this is also why state and local governments need funding, because many mental health programs are run at the local level.

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