Helping Give Away Psychological Science/Hope4Healers
This is the start of the page for Hope4Healers, an initiative by the North Carolina Psychological Association to provide counseling and support services to health care providers pro bono. This page walks through how to get involved, how to access services, and links to other resources.
Mental Health Resources
Many people feel some degree of anxiety when thinking about the outbreak of infectious diseases. The resources in this section may be helpful for reducing these worries.
Coping with anxiety
Keep things in perspective
Take a deep breath, and remember that the number of confirmed infections in the U.S. is extremely low compared to number of people in the country. The fact that there is a great deal of news coverage on this issue does not necessarily mean that it presents any threat to you or your family. There are other things that are statistically more likely to be dangerous (such as car accidents) that are not getting major news attention.
Get the facts
It is helpful to adopt a more clinical and curious approach as you follow news reports about the virus. To that end, you will want to find a credible source you can trust. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage dedicated to information on the coronavirus outbreak. You may also find useful information from local or state public health agencies or even your family physician. We have gathered a lot of these together on a page for the corona virus/COVID-19 here.
Communicate with your children
Discuss the news coverage of the coronavirus with honest and age-appropriate information. Parents can also help allay distress by focusing children on routines and schedules. Remember that children will observe your behaviors and emotions for cues on how to manage their own feelings during this time.
Maintaining social networks can foster a sense of normality and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress. Feel free to share useful information you find on governmental websites with your friends and family. It will help them deal with their own anxiety.
Seek additional help
Individuals who feel an overwhelming nervousness, a lingering sadness, or other prolonged reactions that adversely affect their job performance or interpersonal relationships should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers can help people deal with extreme stress. These professionals work with individuals to help them find constructive ways to manage adversity.
Guidelines for Licensed Mental/Behavioral Health Professionals
Thank you for volunteering to provide support for healthcare workers who are stressed by their work on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. We realize that, as a mental health provider, your life rhythm may have not necessarily slowed down in the midst of the current state of affairs. Your willingness to provide pro-bono services is generous and heartwarming. You are offering a great service for North Carolinians and the larger community. Because you are supporting our helpers and hospital staff, they are able to continue their important work.
The goal of Hope4Healers is to provide support for healthcare professionals and their families who are under severe stress as a result of their work in the coronavirus crisis. The model of intervention is taken from disaster mental health, which is somewhat similar to shortterm supportive therapy. In fact, DMH is often contrasted with therapy because it is brief, assumes clients are mentally healthy, and expects them to return to normal functioning when the disaster is over. Most of the callers will benefit from an approach that emphasizes active listening and is focused on validation, emotional support, and encouragement to mobilize their own resilience. They will benefit from additional tools such as brief mindfulness reminders to care for their physical health and to maintain social connections. Most clients will return to be able to function well following one to three contacts of 15-30 minutes each. For those of you who have not been trained in Disaster Mental Health (DMH) approaches, it is likely to be helpful to engage in some training to orient you to this approach. The primary evidence-informed intervention for survivors of disaster is Psychological First Aid (PFA) or enhanced PFA. Steps of PFA are listed in Addendum A. PFAMobile is a mobile app that outlines the steps of PFA and guidance in executing them. A PFA manual and a link to download the PFAMobile app can be found on the National PTSD Center website. A version of PFA specifically for Covid-19 is available here.
Please note: Research consistently suggests that encouraging clients to describe or discuss traumatic experiences before they are ready may cause exacerbation of symptoms through retraumatization. Also note that interventions appropriate in longer-term therapy may be harmful when intervention is brief. Use your clinical judgment along with the information provided in these Guidelines to determine what is best in any given situation.
You will be communicating with clients remotely. See Addendum B for guidance, and also here for telepsychology tips.
Self-care for therapists:
We recommend that you arrange with professional colleagues to provide a sounding board to talk through some of the difficult situations you may encounter. Healthcare professionals and their families are likely to experience trauma as the coronavirus spreads in NC. You yourself may experience vicarious trauma as a result of your calls. Some of the issues you will be helping with may feel close to home. Thus, you may find that you need to limit the number of clients you see, or take a break from the program. Feel free to pull back when you need to! Additionally, support from colleagues or supervisors, early and often, can help you manage this trauma. If you need help finding support, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you encounter a client who is showing extreme distress, such as suicidal ideation, refer them to an appropriate hotline or nearest emergency service for treatment. See hotline resources below.
This is an opportunity for the mental/behavioral health community to make a huge contribution by supporting front line health care workers. Although most of your contacts will be brief, please invest them with the full attention and skill that you give all of your clients. If a client needs follow-up treatment beyond the current crisis, please offer two or three options for treatment, even if you offer your own services. Assigning Clients: You will be assigned one client at a time. A staff member from Hope4Healers will call you with the client's name and phone number. We will assume your voicemail is confidential.
Please call the client within 24 hours if possible; 48 hours at the latest. We encourage you make at least two attempts to contact the client if you do not reach them the first time or get a call back. When leaving a voicemail for the client, it may be helpful for you to offer a few windows of time they could call you back, perhaps with both daytime and evening options.
Feedback to Hope4Healers:
Please email us at email@example.com within 72 hours to let us know whether or not you have been able to connect with the client. Hope4Healers will contact you by email to get feedback about your experience and the effectiveness of the program.
You will be subject to the Immunity and Liability provisions outlined in 166A-19.60. This means that, with the exception of ‘cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence, or bad faith,’ and as long as you follow professional standards of practice, you will not be liable ‘for the death of or injury to persons’ as a result of your work with Hope4Healers.
Thank you for supporting North Carolina’s healthcare workers at this difficult time.
You are providing a great service to the entire state. Please know that you are deeply appreciated for your willingness to help, irrespective of whether or not you end up connecting with a client.
Important contact info
Hope4Healers Line – 919-226-2002
Contact for MH/BH professionals – firstname.lastname@example.org (email is preferred) 919-226-2002
National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800 799 SAFE (7233)