Trenton, NJ, USA, Dec 25, 2020 -- For nearly 10 months, police officers, firefighters and medical professionals have reported to work risking exposure to the coronavirus, enduring the emotional toll of witnessing so much suffering.
To meet the unique needs of first responders and health care workers, the state Department of Human Services and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care announced this week it will operate helplines staffed by crisis counselors.
The HEAL NJ Healthcare Workers COVID Hope & Healing Helpline may be reached at 1-833-416-8773. It offers live support for doctors, nurses, hospital staff and all other health care personnel by trained crisis counselors and health care peers staff the call line every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS professionals may call RISE: NJ First Responders COVID Hope & Healing Helpline at 1-833-237-4325, also from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They may learn more about support groups and other resources by visiting www.risefirstresponders.com.
After hours, professionals in crisis may dial "1,\u2033 which will link them to the NJ Suicide Prevention Hopeline. It may be dialed directly: 1-855-654-6735.
"Our doctors, nurses, frontline hospital staff, first responders, and nursing home workers are risking their lives every day in this battle against COVID. Each day while caring for our families, they worry about the health and well-being of their own families. They have seen far too much heartbreak and tragedy, and we want to be sure that they have a safe place to talk about their experiences, anxieties and trauma," Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said in the announcement Monday.
Rutgers and the state launched the new helplines with $1.7 million from FEMA and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Members of the public who seek mental health assistance may call the NJ Mental Health Cares helpline at 866-202-HELP (4357) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The line can also be reached by texting NJHOPE to 51684.
"Support is available and we urge people who are struggling or just want to anonymously talk to someone who appreciates the challenges they face during this pandemic to reach out," said Human Services Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, director of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
An American Sign Language video mental health help line for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is also available at 973-870-0677.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Monday, December 28, 2020
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