Idealist logoidealist

Free Mental Health Resources During the COVID-19 Crisis

Angel Eduardo profile image

Angel Eduardo

A person with a bun looks out the window with their mask on.

We don’t need to be on the frontlines to know it’s rough out there. From healthcare professionals to mail carriers, from delivery persons to drivers, essential workers have been braving the pandemic every day to keep us safe and well-stocked while we do our part to stay safe and stay home.

The stress of frontline work, however, can take its toll. That’s why it’s important to know that there are mental health and wellness resources available to you, even during quarantine. Whether you’re an essential worker or related to one, or you're just someone stuck at home and feeling overwhelmed, here are a few free ways to get some support.

Safe Call Now

Safe Call Now is a confidential, 24-hour hotline specifically designed for public safety employees, emergency services personnel, and their families. Founded by former law enforcement officer Sean Riley after struggling with the pressures of the job, Safe Call Now is dedicated to providing others with the support he wished he’d had.

With a staff of trained public safety professionals and former law enforcement officers, Safe Call Now gives essential workers a way to connect with people who can offer resources, aid, or even just an understanding ear. 

To connect with Safe Call Now, dial 206-459-3020.

The Trauma Recovery Network

Founded in 1995, the Trauma Recovery Network (TRN) is providing free Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to first responders, veterans, humanitarian aid workers, and others who have suffered trauma while on the frontlines of the pandemic. Developed in the 1990s to help disaster victims, EMDR is a form of psychotherapy designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories.

An affiliate of the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program, the TRN offers limited free, virtual sessions with licensed volunteer therapists to help essential workers whose mental wellbeing has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Find your local TRN chapter to learn more about the resources and services being offered to essential workers in your area.

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline

Spearheaded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this 24-hour, confidential hotline has been offering free crisis counseling to anyone experiencing emotional distress since 2012. Available across the United States in multiple languages, the Disaster Distress Helpline offers information on how to recognize distress and its effects, tips for healthy coping during times of crisis, and referrals to local call centers for follow-up support.

Anyone who is feeling high levels of stress, anxiety, or depression during COVID-19 can call 1-800-985-5990, or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 to get on the line with a trained volunteer crisis counselor.

HSPH COVID-19 Mental Health Forum

A series of online seminars hosted by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), the COVID-19 Mental Health Forum introduces evidence-based skills to managing stress specifically related to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Hosted by Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology Dr. Karestan Koenan and colleagues, each forum features experts discussing emotional, psychological, and physical health issues related to the pandemic.

The seminars are free and open to the public, featuring a list of online resources along with a Q&A session at the end. Forums cover different topics every week, and are also available for viewing online afterward. Just scroll down on the forum’s homepage to find previous discussions.

Mental Health America’s COVID-19 Database

Hosted by Mental Health America (MHA), a community-based nonprofit, this database runs the gamut. From information on mental health during disease outbreaks to resources for caregivers, first responders, parents, and older adults, MHA has it all covered. 

No matter your financial or living situation, and regardless of your level of stress, worry, or anxiety, you’ll find a wealth of information, links, and tools to help get you through the pandemic with an eye on your mental health and emotional wellbeing.


That’s just a small sample of the mental health resources available to essential workers, their families, and others during the pandemic. You can also check out the World Health Organization’s Mental Health and COVID-19 homepage, as well as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s list of helpful resources on managing COVID-19 anxiety, which is updated daily. Finally, you can seek out a mutual aid network near you for support and lists of wellness and mental health resources like this one. No matter where you look, the help you need is within reach.

It’s a difficult time for everyone, but essential workers and their families in particular deserve our admiration, respect, and all the support we can offer. If you or someone you know is struggling, please direct them to the mental health resources listed above. Together, we will get through this.

Angel Eduardo profile image

Angel Eduardo

Angel uses his skills as a storyteller to support and inspire job seekers and aspiring social-impact professionals.