Bay Area therapists offering free counseling to stressed-out front line workers amid COVID-19 pandemic: 'We take it home with us'

"There is an incredible rate of patients dying on us and it's all age groups, you take that home because it becomes personal."
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Help is on the way for essential workers on the front line of the novel coronavirus pandemic who are feeling stressed and frustrated everyday. ABC7 is working to Build a Better Bay Area during this time with a focus on health, especially our mental health. Hundreds of local therapists are now offering their services to frontline workers who want it, all for free.

"We have a lot of stressed out nurses now," said Michael Hill, a veteran nurse Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. It's a hospital where COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Hill says the stress is often so high, it can't be measured.

"There is an incredible rate of patients dying on us and it's all age groups, you take that home because it becomes personal," said Hill.

It's a burden many healthcare workers face everyday.

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"Grief, loss, guilt, frustration, confusion," said Dr. Elizabeth Rawson, a San Francisco Psychiatrist.

She says those emotions often need to be talked about. Rawson started the Frontline Workers Counseling Project where Bay Area licensed therapists provide free mental health counseling to all essential workers, from doctors and nurses to firefighters and postal delivery workers.

"There's of course fear and anxiety about the pandemic, including our own risk of exposure to COVID," said Rawson.

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Rawson says it began with a simple idea, a few therapists wanting to help. It's now grown to 450 therapists donating their time, providing free counseling to those who need it.

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Rawson can't say how many people have reached out since the program began in March. It's funded by private donations. Signing up is easy on the project's website.

"I think a lot of nurses would take advantage of it," said Hill.

Michael Hill is trying to stay healthy during this strange time, and good mental health is so important too for the road ahead.

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