Providing variety of methods and approaches allows healthcare workers to choose the best options for them to mitigate and treat psychological distress from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, researchers said in a preliminary report published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Leaders at a large, multisite hospital system in New York City that supported areas hit hardest in COVID-19’s initial wave, especially underserved communities, implemented the following interventions for its healthcare workers to use for mental health support at no cost:

  • Grand rounds and other presentations from the psychiatric department, many of which had a key focus on resiliency
  • Web-based resources and infographics
  • Emotional support phone lines
  • In-person staff support centers
  • Telehealth psychotherapy
  • Ally program that paired a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner with frontline workers for personal support
  • Team support sessions
  • Virtual wellness series on meditation and art therapy
  • Clergy support

Of all the resources, staff used the in-person support centers the most, with more than 32,000 visits from March–June 2020. Other support options popular among staff were the web-based resources, team support sessions, and ally program. Least used were the phone lines and telehealth therapy, wellness series, and clergy support.

“We believe that the support centers were the most frequently used because they were easily accessible places for respite, refreshment, and recharging and offered a basic form of human connection not necessarily associated with the potential stigma of seeking formal support,” the researchers wrote. “We further hypothesize that the relatively low number of calls to the phone support line and the low number of participants in telehealth was related to the enormous stress and physical exhaustion experienced during the height of the pandemic as well as the characteristic disinclination of many healthcare workers to acknowledge vulnerability or seek care for themselves.”

Review ONS’s self-care resources, including a set dedicated to COVID-19.