Free mental health assistance available for frontline workers, their families amid COVID-19

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 19:23:08-04

A nonprofit organization is offering free mental health assistance for any healthcare worker, first responder or their families amid COVID-19.

"You can't ignore family members telling you, you need help. You can't ignore the fact that you're not sleeping, that you're anxious and you're worried and you feel guilty. That stuff doesn't go away on its own," said Dr. Anthony Hassan, President and CEO of Cohen Veterans Network.

The nonprofit organization has an extensive treatment program for trauma and PTSD for military veterans.

But now, Hassan warns front line workers are going through a similar war zone.

"The idea that I couldn't save somebody. What that does to us, moral injury, how we feel, depression, sleepless nights, nightmares, recurring intrusive thoughts, and then, of course, the misuse of substances to cope," Hassan explained.

So the nonprofit is now offering mental health resources for free to first responders, healthcare workers and their families.

"We know the families are the gateway to treatment, 50 percent of the patients we see are family members and we know that the reason why their loved one is in care is because they started first," he said.

And that mental health assistance does not have to be considered "clinical."

"You can participate in a non-clinical support group, you can go and talk to someone. It really is a catharsis. It's an opportunity for you to know that you're not alone and what you're experiencing is normal. And in time, things can get better but you can't ignore the symptoms," Hassan explained.

And with appointments now virtual, Hassan says telehealth helps patients stay committed to treatment.

"We have seen so many more people engage with care, stay with care, and by the way, the quality of care and the outcomes with care on virtual have been just the same," he explained.

Most importantly? Hassan says don't isolate, but communicate with someone before it's too late.

"I would remind all of our healthcare providers and first responders, listen to your family, listen to your friends. If they say something, if they say you need help, you need help," he said.

Cohen Veteran's Network in Tampa offers other mental health services including virtual therapy for sleep disorders, PTSD and depression.

And the non-clinical support groups, facilitated by licensed clinicians, focuses on general coping skills and managing distress.

For free mental health assistance, visit their website.