Mental health initiative helps first responders fight COVID-19

First responders and law enforcement personnel walk near the scene following a shooting in Jersey City, N.J., Dec. 10, 2019. ( AP )

It's a stressful and emotional time for America's first responders and now a new mental health initiative aims to help them in the fight against coronavirus.

"Our job is to put it all on the line, it's that simple," says Franklin Police Chief David Goldstein.

In New Hampshire, Chief Goldstein has been been working with veteran and first responder healthcare as they bring telemental health services to those battling the coronavirus in order to keep them sharp and mentally fit despite the chaos and grim work.

"The bottom line is to try to keep the first responders, health care professionals on the front lines, and keep helping people," said VFR CEO Eric Golnick, a Navy veteran.

Golnick says it's important they connect those who need help with someone who has also worked in emergency response or the armed forces.

With a click and a call, or email, VFR Healthcare can connect those who need to talk for 15 minutes to two hours with a master-level clinician. Thanks to relaxed rules right now, those therapists can practice across state lines.

"Our goal is to get them with, to a clinician, to an actual clinical person to talk and actually have therapy, within 24 hours," Golnick says.

"In the old days we toughed through it, everybody was a tough guy. Today we've come to learn much better, that we need to talk," Goldstein says.

The therapy sessions are private and are held over video services like Skype or Zoom.

Golnick and Goldstein say this outbreak will present both short and long term effects on mental wellness which must be addressed now.

"When we were deployed you could, you know your family was safely back home....here these folks are scared they're going to bring the virus to their family," Golnick says.

If you're on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak and need to talk with someone, here's how to contact VFR Healthcare, copays are waived and they work with many insurance companies.

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