When and How to Get More Help
As a frontline health worker, you’re probably experiencing the type of stress that can cause people to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed. These feelings are normal responses considering the crisis. However, when they last too long, impair your ability to function, reemerge from a previous condition, or present a significant risk to you or others, it’s a good time to get help.
How do I know when to reach out?
If you are reading this, that might mean you are looking to see if help is available and that is your first cue. You might find yourself or someone you care about experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia, anger, violence, alcohol or substance abuse, traumatic stress, or having suicidal thoughts.
You may find yourself having issues that are interfering with your abilities to function:
- Feeling overwhelmed all the time, intense anxiety, fear, or grief that does not seem to stop. That may include feeling sad or on the verge of tears for very long periods
- Physical symptoms such as chest pain or breathing trouble that are not connected to another medical condition
- Concentration trouble, poor memory, or feeling very high or low alertness
- Becoming irritable over things that would never bother you before, loss of appetite, or unable to sleep
- Having frequent conflicts with your friends, family, or co-workers
- Often feeling afraid at times or in places that are not typical
- Using alcohol to manage anxiety or get to sleep
Stigma as a barrier:
- Research and self-reports show that one of the main barriers to health care professionals seeking care is due to stigmatization and concerns over professional consequences. For many this is a critical issue and is very personal to each individual.
- Please consider talking to someone you trust who can provide guidance on the matter, or consider seeking help in a manner that feels more confidential.
For more information on when and where to seek help, please see:
- Finding Help: When To Get It And Where To Go (Mental Health America)
- Mental health: What's normal, what's not (Mayo Clinic)
- Healthcare Personnel and First Responders: How to Cope with Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic (CDC)
- Supporting Emotional Health of the Health Care Workforce (michigan.gov)
Have a screening appointment?
Even if you’re unsure if you need help, you can always have a screening appointment with a mental health provider. If you have a mental health provider already, or can access one through your insurance, Employee Assistance Program, or online therapy services, it’s a good first step. You can get direct feedback from a professional on what your needs might be. In addition, there are online support communities compiled by NAMI—National Alliance on Mental Illness.
It can be uncomfortable to reach out for help sometimes. However, it is a brave step to take action when it’s needed. You can do it for yourself and for those who rely on you.
The resources below are easy to use and include crisis hotlines and text messaging for short term help. In some cases, a professional mental health provider is the best step.
CALL 911 FOR EMERGENCIES
To contact a trained crisis counselor:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
SAMHSA National Helpline
1-800-662 HELP (4357)
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline
1-800-985-5990; TTY 1-800-846-8517 OR Text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
Crisis Text Line
Text “HOME” to 741741
Online therapy platforms:
Please also see the following links to additional resources, such as: