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App measures mental wellness of front line workers, responders
UNC initiative helps assess, support
Published Friday, July 24, 2020 6:44 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health launched the Heroes Health Initiative to support the mental health of first responders and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic with a new assessment app.

An app can assess the mental health of first responders and medical professionals on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis.

The UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health have launched the Heroes Health Initiative to help support the mental health of first responders and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The app is available through the App Store/Google Play Store in the United States at no cost to first responders, healthcare workers and their organizations.

The app delivers short mental health self-assessments weekly and displays symptom summary reports to help them better understand the state of their own mental health and changes over time. The app also shows links to support and mental health resources, emphasizing free and low-cost services.

“First responders and healthcare workers are facing a lot of challenges right now,” said UNC School of Medicine physician Dr. Samuel McLean, founder of the initiative. “There is the personal risk of severe illness or death. Much worse, there is the anxiety and fear of infecting loved ones. This an even greater challenge for first responders or health workers who live with someone particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. It’s important to give first responders and healthcare workers a simple, quick way to regularly check in on their mental health and immediately find resources. It is also important to provide organizations with tools that help empower them to care for each other.”

Healthcare organizations that partner with Heroes Health, the app helps with proactive worker outreach and data necessary to identify times when and areas where more support is needed. Developed by the UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery, Google Cloud and volunteers across Alphabet, the app and its launch was paid for by individual and corporate donors including One Mind, The Rockefeller Foundation, Bank of America, Lauder Foundation, and individuals.

Healthcare workers who choose to participate in the initiative download the free app to their iOS (Apple) or Android-compatible smartphone. Each week, the app notifies them that a brief mental health symptom assessment is available, and evaluates symptoms in areas such as sleep, stress, anxiety and sadness/depression.

Immediately after completing the survey, workers can view a summary report of their symptoms, and trends in their symptoms over time. The app also provides links to get immediate crisis support and other mental health resources, e.g. to improve sleep and stress. This resource list focuses on apps and services that are either free or offered at reduced costs to healthcare workers.

“As a community and country, it is important to come together to support those on the frontline taking care of our citizens with coronavirus,” said Bank of America North Carolina Market President Charles Bowman. “It was an easy decision to partner with The Rockefeller Foundation to fund an application of this type that will be valuable now, and in the future, to ensure healthcare workers can self-monitor and have access to the support and services they need and deserve.”


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