SF expands counseling services for frontline workers under ‘stressful conditions’

Noting the stressful working conditions for health care and emergency employees, Mayor London Breed on Wednesday announced expanded counseling and mental health services for them.

An existing employee assistance program will expand to provide 24/7 one-on-one counseling for any first responder and city employee in need. They will also receive a connection to mental health professionals under their health care plans for long-term mental health counseling if necessary.

In addition to this service, Breed announced the launch of Heal San Francisco, a broader effort to coordinate mental health services for public, private, and non-profit health care workers.

Heal San Francisco will provide access to 375 licensed clinicians who are volunteering their time during the coronavirus emergency to provide mental health care for San Francisco’s frontline health care workers. Health care workers can access the clinicians by requesting their help through their supervisor or human resources department.

“This is a really difficult time for all San Franciscans, and it’s especially challenging for our health care workers and first responders who are working long hours and under incredibly stressful conditions,” Breed said in a statement. “Just as they are taking care of us, we need to take care of them. The impacts of this pandemic are not limited to the virus itself, which is why these expanded mental health resources are so important.”

The mental health service expansion includes a partnership with Cordico, a wellness app, that first responders can use to connect to the mental health resources offered by The City.

Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson said that “our firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs deal with trauma and stress on a daily basis, even more so as they are on the front lines of this public health crisis.”

“We need to make sure our members have the resources and capability to take care of their mental health, now more than ever,” she said.

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