Therapists Donate Their Time to Counsel Distressed Health Care Workers

January 22, 2021 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Health and Wellness

Last modified January 26, 2021

This article published in the Medical News & Perspectives section of JAMA discusses how therapists are donating time to help health care workers who are distressed following the high rates of death and severe illness experienced treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Emotional PPE Project is one of at least three volunteer organizations that was created in the early days of the pandemic to link health care workers with licensed mental health practitioners who were willing to counsel them, free of charge. The Emotional PPE Project became popular because its therapists made sessions easily available via Zoom.

“The culture of medicine tells you, suck it up,” Jessica Gold, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, said in an interview. Gold wrote an editorial in the BMJ about the pandemic’s psychological risks to health care workers, including posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance use disorder. The editorial also accompanied a meta-analysis of research on the psychological responses of health care workers during virus outbreaks. Among the findings: access to psychological interventions can help protect health care personnel from emotional distress.

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