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New Emotional Support Line For TN Health-Care Workers on Front Lines

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020   

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee's health care workers and first responders who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response have a new resource to help them grapple with stress, anxiety, sadness or depression related to work.

Lizzie Harrigan, chairwoman at the Mental Health Active Response Team, one of the organizations that helped develop the service, said it offers an avenue for health care workers to express emotions they otherwise might not have an outlet for.

"We know that they're going home to their families, and maybe they don't want to take some of these concerns and feeling home to their families," Harrigan said. "And so, where do they put it? We wanted them to put it with us."

The COVID-19 Emotional Support Line for health-care workers can be reached at 888-642-7886, and is staffed by volunteer mental-health professionals.

Harrigan said the phone line is staffed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

"And those hours were specifically chosen to hopefully catch hospital workers rotating on and off of shifts," she said.

She said support-line staff offer tools for managing stress, noting these resources were not available in the earliest days of the unprecedented public health crisis.

"We knew that some of the health care workers didn't have access to the PPE that they were hoping for, that they were being moved around to different units, or maybe working in different roles that perhaps they weren't familiar with," she said. "And of course we were hearing some of these stories coming out of Italy, and then New York that were particularly frightening."

Harrigan emphasized the emotional-support line is not intended to replace mental-health crisis or suicide-prevention services. The statewide crisis line always is available at 855-274-7471 or by texting "TN" to 741-741.


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