There’s no doubt that the healthcare profession is stressful. In many instances, you have someone's life literally in your hands. Clearly, you’re resilient. But you’re also still human. Anxiety, depression, burnout, and other mental health issues are prevalent nationwide, especially for healthcare providers.
Don’t let burnout be the sign you should process your feelings or manage your stress levels. Finding support for your mental health is better not only for, you but for your patients. Help is out there, and it’s free — or available at a reduced cost. In this article, we go over mental health resources that can help you check up on and improve your mental health.
5 Low-Cost or Free Mental Health Resources for Healthcare Workers
These resources aim to connect frontline workers and healthcare workers with professional and licensed resources they need to work through the stressors associated with a frontline career, as well as general anxiety in their lives. These resources are free or very affordable, allowing them to be accessible to anyone in any situation.
What They Do: The Therapy Aid Coalition connects essential and crisis workers with mental health resources in all 50 states. Their website allows you to search for support and locate a therapist within the system that you feel is right for you. As a healthcare worker, you can receive four sessions of online therapy.
Cost: Through the help of volunteers and donations from the public, Therapy Aid is able to provide free or low-cost, short-term care.
What They Do: This organization strives to provide mental health resources to frontline workers who lack the time to use these resources regularly. They also seek to fight the stigma that seeking help could affect workers’ careers. If you are in a healthcare-related field, then you can connect with a volunteer licensed mental health professional. Therapists provide free care and support you through whatever struggles you present to them.
Cost: Free. As the group’s tagline reads, “No insurance. No Cost. Just a trained professional to talk to.”
What They Do: Formed in March 2020, this organization shares mental health information, provides resources, and establishes best practices for digital crisis services. They and their partners combine resources from various organizations to provide information about mental health issues, as well as services that you can reach out to. One partner, Crisis Text Line, allows frontline workers to text FRONTLINE to 741741 for free crisis counseling, 24/7.
What They Do: This resource was founded by veterans, first responders, community leaders, and supporters to help heal those who have served their communities. Their Frontline Therapy Network provides fully confidential, barrier-free access to mental health resources and care with a provider who has been carefully selected to be a part of the network. You can receive up to six free sessions of therapy/teletherapy, with flexible scheduling to make sure you can fit self-care into your busy life.
What They Do: BetterHelp provides discreet and affordable access to licensed, experienced, and accredited professionals. These can include psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and board-licensed professional counselors. They can be reached on any device.
Cost: The cost ranges from $60 to $90 per week. Discount promos frequently run from various advertisers or from the website. The price depends on your location, preferences, and therapist availability. You can cancel a membership at any time, for any reason.
5 Free Peer-to-Peer Resources
Peer-to-peer support allows first responders to talk to others in their fields who are trained to handle the topics that may come up in conversation, and to share similar experience to their peers who are seeking support. These no-cost programs are all confidential.
What They Do: This group serves emergency medical personnel and first responders such as fire and law enforcement, along with their families, with free, confidential counseling with a professional who can help navigate through trauma. Among services offered on their website is peer-to-peer support, provided through qualified clinicians familiar with the pressures frontline workers face and the stress this line of work can put on families.
What They Do: PeerRxMed connects you with peers in the healthcare profession for advice and support. On this site, you can find articles written to serve as advice and reminders to connect to your support network. That network is your PeerRxMed Buddy. It's recommended you go through this program with someone you know well; this person is your buddy. You then meet your buddy weekly, monthly, and quarterly for check-ins. These meetings are prompted by someone from the PeerRxMed program.
What They Do: This resource offers free and confidential peer support to U.S.-based DO/MD/international equivalents at all levels, even those who aren’t currently practicing medicine. The PSL aims to destigmatize and normalize the experience of physicians and medical students seeking help and to create a community of peer support. The licensed psychiatrists are colleagues who are uniquely trained in mental wellness and have similar shared experiences as you. No appointment is necessary, and volunteers are available from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, seven days a week.
Note: As mentioned on the site, this is a physician-specific helpline. Frontline healthcare workers and first responders who are seeking similar services can call 1-800-327-7451 (TTY 711).
What They Do: NurseGroups offers “emotional resilience” groups for nurses, led by experienced facilitators. These free, confidential groups focus on reducing anxiety, creating supportive connections with peers, and helping nurses support others. The groups are usually made up of between 4-12 nurses and 1-2 facilitators, and meet for one-hour video calls on various days and times throughout the week. Group activities include mindfulness practices, sharing and processing sessions, and emotional skill building.
What They Do: DRAN provides education to those who seek to help in moments of crisis and offers resources and support to those who need them. DRAN believes that by working together to educate and prepare for disasters, you can do your job as a first responder efficiently and effectively, saving property and lives from danger. As a frontline responder and healthcare worker directly involved with the COVID-19 pandemic, you are eligible for free and confidential support groups over video call. These weekly meetings are led by a healthcare or responder professional trained in peer support.
Healthcare workers and first responders routinely stare down stressful situations, and COVID-related anxiety, shortages, and uncertainty have only added to the stress. As hard as it might feel to take care of yourself ahead of others, remember that you can help patients only when you are getting what you need. With this in mind, accept that you don’t have to handle your stress alone or wait until you reach full burnout mode before seeking help. Using these resources, which are just a handful of the many available, you can continue to help others by making sure you help yourself too.