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 reach out to about feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness, or depression related to work, a press release from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The COVID-19 Emotional Support Line for health care workers is available to call at 888-642-7886.

The support line is a collaborative project among the Mental Health Active Response Team (MHART), the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug, & other Addictions Services (TAADAS), National Association of Social Workers-TN Chapter (NASW-TN), and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Specially trained mental health professionals who answer calls through the line can provide emotional support through active listening, help callers identify and address basic needs, and reference tools for managing stress and making a plan for self-care, the release said.

“We are grateful to the partners in this project who reached out to us to create this public-private support line. The brave Tennesseans working in health care right now truly are heroes, and we are proud to be a part of this effort. From the emergency department doctors and nurses to hospital support staff and dedicated employees at assisted living facilities, our health care workers and first responders at all levels are under tremendous pressure, and they deserve our support in every way we can offer it,” said Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.

“When volunteering is made simple and the volunteers’ skills are valued, not only is the community benefiting from skilled volunteers, but the volunteers are benefiting as well. We believe connecting health care workers and first responders to skilled volunteers will help reduce the effects of prolonged stress, such as depression, substance use disorders, and post traumatic stress disorders,” said Lizzie Harrigan, chairwoman of the Mental Health Active Response Team.

It is important to note that the emotional support line cannot offer mental health treatment and is not intended to replace mental health crisis or suicide prevention services, the release said. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Statewide Crisis Line is always available at 855-274-7471 or by texting “TN” to 741-741.

Mental health professionals who are interested in volunteering can submit their information at https://www.mharttn.org/volunteer/.

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