Help Available For Front-Line Workers In Need Of Mental Health Support In Wake Of Pandemic

The pandemic is taking a toll on front-line workers with many experiencing trauma not only at work, but also at home. Many experts believe another crisis is brewing when it comes to mental health during this pandemic. Now, help is available; CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.

Video Transcript

- The pandemic is taking a toll on front line workers, with many experiencing trauma not only at work, but also at home. Welcome back. I'm Hazel Sanchez.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: And I'm Kristine Johnson. Right now at 5:30, many experts believe another crisis is brewing when it comes to mental health during this pandemic.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Now help is available to process the grief. CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas introduces us to a front line worker who lost two family members while battling COVID himself.

CARLOS RIVERO: The process today was a little tough. Early in the morning, I had an emotional breakdown a little bit.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Carlos Rivero works in environmental services at Cohen Children's Medical Center on Long Island. On this day last year, his father died of COVID. His grandmother died 11 days earlier. And he could not attend the funerals because he too was battling the virus.

CARLOS RIVERO: It was the toughest sickness I ever had to endure. On my seventh day of quarantine, I thought I was gonna die.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Despair is all too familiar to medical professionals who balance the stress at work and also at home. North Shore University ICU nurse Elyse Sopo documented some of her hardest days.

ELYSE SOPO: I had to take a deep breath and a moment for myself because a patient had just passed away.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Experts have compared the impact of the collective trauma on the front line to war. That's why Northwell Health created a new center to help staff and their families process their grief.

MAYER BELLEHSEN: Just like our veterans receive additional specialized supports to acknowledge their sacrifice, so too, our health care workers deserve the same.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: The Center for Traumatic Stress, Resilience, and Recovery provides peer support programs along with therapy. It's also researching the long-term impact of traumatic stress from the pandemic.

FRED DAVIS: The fallout from having to deal with this past year of losing loved ones, this center is vital for that.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Now the healers need to be the patients.

ELYSE SOPO: I can pinpoint in my head at least five or six colleagues that I've seen change over the last year that are different people than they used to be that 100% need this program.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Northwell is trying to create a culture where it's OK to ask for help. In New Hyde Park, Long Island, Aundrea Cline-Thomas, "CBS2 News."

HAZEL SANCHEZ: For now, the center only treats staff members and their families but does expect to expand to the general public in the coming months.