White House Grants $103 Million to Address Healthcare Worker Burnout

Tired healthcare worker.

Kong Ding Chek / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • The Biden-Harris Administration awarded $103 million in American Rescue Plan funds to address burnout and advance mental health among healthcare workers.
  • The funding will support numerous programs.
  • Experts say that while funding is a good start to addressing burnout and mental health among healthcare workers, the programs need to be implemented and organized effectively, and structural changes need to occur.

The pandemic has had a grueling effect on healthcare and frontline workers. To meet the demands of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, doctors, nurses, and other essential health workers have been working around the clock, with 55% reporting burnout and 62% reporting mental health repercussions last year.

In an attempt to address burnout and mental health concerns, as well as healthcare worker retention, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would provide $103 million in funding for programs addressing the issue.

The money will be disbursed by the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to 45 grantees through three programs:

  • Promoting Resilience and Mental Health Among Health Professional Workforce Program
  • Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program
  • Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Technical Assistance Center

If not addressed, physician burnout can lead to increased medical errors, an increased risk of malpractice, and reduced patient satisfaction.

What’s more, “addressing burnout is important to patient care; physician burnout is associated with a reduced efficiency of health care systems to deliver high quality, safe care to patients,” an HHS spokesperson told Verywell.

What Will the Money Fund?

The funds will help healthcare organizations establish, improve, and expand on evidence-informed programs and practices that advance mental health and promote well-being among healthcare workers.

The Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program will deliver evidence-informed training development and education for healthcare workers. The curriculum will address burnout and burnout resiliency and will be delivered to healthcare students, residents in training, healthcare professionals, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and ambulance crew members. In total, this program will receive $68.2 million and will be divided amongst 34 grantees.

HRSA will also award George Washington University $6 million to provide tailored training and technical assistance to awardees.

“Grantees will undertake a variety of evidence-informed approaches to promote resiliency, mental health, and well-being,” the HHS spokesperson said.

The HHS spokesperson added that these approaches will include:

  • Hiring and deploying resiliency trainers
  • Implementing “first-aid”-like programs that target stress reduction
  • Working with health systems on creating a culture of wellness that prioritizes healthcare workers’ well-being
  • Developing tools that can improve employees’ capacity to manage workplace stressors
  • Improving workflow design and other processes that create frustration and stress

They added that the initiative will also include building a technical assistance center to support grantees in implementing and sharing their work with the broader healthcare community.

What This Means For You

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and isn’t sure where to get help, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). It’s confidential, free, and runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s available in English and Spanish. If you call this helpline, they can give you referrals to local treatment centers, support groups, and other organizations.

Are These Programs Enough?

While these efforts are a good start to advancing the mental health of healthcare workers, more is needed to create long-term change, according to Rachel Needle, PsyD, a licensed psychologist based in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“We can allocate money toward an important problem but then not organize and implement it effectively,” Needle told Verywell. “Having a team of mental health professionals [involved] who are experienced in program development and implementation and knowledgeable about burnout would be an important place to begin at.”

Companies can evaluate workloads and make them more manageable by hiring more workers to take on needs that can’t be met with current staffing, she added. Companies can also incorporate support groups into the work week, have mental health professionals on-site, provide education to promote resilience, and help people know the signs of burnout and tools that can be used to reduce burnout, Needle explained.

Coupled with support groups, Aisha R. Shabazz, MSS, MLSP, LCSW, therapist serving patients in New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, said there needs to be a cap on the maximum amount of hours that can be worked consecutively. “If [the number of patients is high], you should have more time off, not asked to take on overtime,” Shabazz told Verywell.

Some of the main culprits of healthcare worker burnout include the sheer volume of COVID-19 patients and witnessing patients dying from the virus. Seeing people still not taking COVID-19 seriously yet watching its toll daily has diminished healthcare workers’ sense of worth and hope, Needle emphasized. Getting the virus under control will be crucial for supporting healthcare workers’ mental health.

“We recognize the dedication of the healthcare workforce throughout the pandemic and are committed to continuing to use our levers and programs to support their needs going forward,” the HHS spokesperson said.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kaiser Family Foundation. KFF/The Washington Post frontline healthcare workers survey.

  2. Department of Health and Human Services. Biden-Harris administration awards $103 million in American Rescue Plan funds to reduce burnout and promote mental health and wellness among health care workforce.

  3. Health Resources and Services Administration. Health workforce resiliency awards.

  4. Patel RS, Bachu R, Adikey A, Malik M, Shah M. Factors related to physician burnout and its consequences: a reviewBehav Sci (Basel). 2018;8(11):98. doi:10.3390/bs8110098

By Kayla Hui, MPH
Kayla Hui, MPH is the health and wellness ecommerce writer at Verywell Health.She earned her master's degree in public health from the Boston University School of Public Health and BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.