The holiday season, while a joyous time for most, can put a strain on your mental health. Added with the stress of the coronavirus this year, the state is making sure New Jerseyans have the resources to speak with someone if they are seeking help.
“This holiday season, it’s okay not to be okay,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing Dec. 23. “Help is just a phone call away.”
The state this week set up resources for frontline healthcare workers who are struggling with their mental health, with Murphy noting “in every sense they have been heroes (during the pandemic), but even heroes need help sometimes.”
The New Jersey Department of Human Services and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care are providing emotional support and crisis counseling to healthcare workers and first responders impacted by COVID-19 with a new website at healhealthcareworkers.com as well as by phone at (833) 416-8773. Counselors will be available to help with telehealth appointments available as well as offering access to virtual support groups.
For law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS professionals and other first responders, RISE is offering live support from specialists and peers daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with emergency support available 24/7. Their website is risefirstresponders.com or available by phone at (833) 237-4325.
And for any New Jersey resident who is struggling with mental health issues, free, confidential emotional support from Mental Health Association in New Jersey is available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; their website is mhanj.org and can be reached by calling (866) 202-HELP or text “NJHOPE” to 51684. Those that are deaf and hard-of-hearing access can be reached via videophone, M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (973) 870-0677.
Safe Place to Talk
“Our doctors, nurses, frontline hospital staff, first responders, and nursing home workers are risking their lives every day in this battle against COVID,” said the state’s Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson in a press statement announcing the available services.
“Each day while caring for our families, they worry about the health and well-being of their own families,” stated Johnson. “They have seen far too much heartbreak and tragedy, and we want to be sure that they have a safe place to talk about their experiences, anxieties and trauma.”
Rutgers and the state launched the new helpline with $1.7 million from FEMA and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Murphy said with a rough Winter ahead that health experts forecasts coronavirus cases continuing to rise, it is critical to reach out to connect via phone, text or virtually.
“This is going to be an important period over the next couple of weeks,” said the governor. “So just pick up the phone and (contact) someone, particularly those that have been left alone by this awful pandemic.”