Our world is constantly changing during this global pandemic. Even the known facts about COVID-19 are updating daily. Statistics are regularly being shared in the news about cases, recovery and deaths. It is causing a lot of anxiety and stress for everyone but even more for the brave healthcare workers on the front lines.
Everyone has heard the phrase “unprecedented times” or “trying times” more than they can count. But, we are truly dealing with an unprecedented hardship for healthcare professionals. With such a toll, there are bound to be mental health problems that weight on our healthcare professionals.
To everyone else, healthcare workers look like heroes, strong and unwavering. However, putting yourself at great personal risk to keep others safe and watching many not pull through can wear on the strongest of shoulders. Thankfully, there are multiple resources available for our clinicians and we want to share some with you.
American Nurse Association (ANA)
ANA launched a Well-being Initiative to provide resources and support for nurses' mental health and resilience. This program is customized for nurses. ANA partnered with organizations to develop a comprehensive mental well-being program. It includes virtual support systems and a digital toolkit for the near and long-term needs of America’s four million nurses.
The program also includes multiple apps like Moodfit and Happy App.
Moodfit is a mobile app customized for nurses to support you with wellness goals. It enables you to set your own personal goals like mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises. Then you can set up reminders at times that are appropriate for you.
Happy App Warm Line is specifically for nurses tackling anxiety, stress, fear and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This app connects you, 24/7, to a one-on-one Support Giver team member from the comfort and privacy of your home or wherever you are.
In addition to apps, ANA also provides a virtual, judgement-free space via Zoom called Nurses Together: Connecting Through Conversations. Here you can connect with your nursing peers to share thoughts, seek support and ask questions in peer-to-peer calls that are scheduled throughout the 24-hour day and offered 7 days a week. Sign up to attend a call.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC has regularly updated their information to keep everyone as prepared as possible during the pandemic. They acknowledge that “fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.”
The organization is providing suggestions for healthcare professional and general responders to COVID-19. Among their points they call out to create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book. For more information and suggestions visit the CDC’s page on coping with stress.
“Talkspace is the world’s leading online therapy company.” As the leader in digital behavior health they are donating 1,000 months of free online therapy to healthcare workers on the frontlines of COVID-19. Medical professionals receive 1 free month of Talkspace's Unlimited Messaging Plus plan - including online therapy in the form of text, audio and video calls with a licensed therapist. Access this offer on their website or download the app from the App Store or Google Play.
Talkspace also provides for mental health assistance, free therapist-led Facebook support groups and a 16-day anxiety relief program to reduce and manage fear about COVID-19. They and their partners have provided 2,100 free months of therapy for doctors, nurses, social workers and front line workers. Once the donation ends, they plan on maintaining this program by offering financial assistance to those on the front lines as well as discounted subscriptions for all.
Telehealth Counseling and Support Groups
There are multiple companies and organizations ready to lend support when needed. Warrior Teletherapy Network Is offering free teletherapy to healthcare workers in the Kansas City metro area. Neurocore Brain Performance is is offering free telehealth counseling to all first responders and medical professionals in the U.S. There are no-cost, confidential emotional support groups for nurses on the frontlines of COVID-19 available nationwide.
Other Approaches to Mental Health and Wellness
Perhaps you aren’t ready for professional counseling or to schedule a therapy session. Your mental health and wellness is important and there are resources for you too. Consult YouTube for some led relaxation techniques. Try yoga, guided medication, or even just some relaxing music.
Check out a YouTube series like Morning JOY- 30 Days to Reduce Stress & Anxiety. This series contains videos around 2-minutes each with actionable techniques that may help you cope with your day to day life.
Whatever you decide to do, please know, you aren’t alone. This is a global issue that is very personal. Do what you need to do to cope with these difficult and stressful times. For healthcare professionals, there is a network of support to help you through while you are busy caring for others.