Experts believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused first responders and frontline healthcare workers to experience trauma and distress. Such experiences could increase their risk for mental health conditions, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The University of North Carolina has launched a new Heroes Health Initiative, which focuses on an app that helps frontline workers monitor their mental health and provides them with crucial resources.

PTSD stems from traumatic events, such as combat experience, acts of violence, child abuse, or natural disasters. The pandemic falls mostly under the last category, but first responders and healthcare workers also witness elements of other types of trauma as they perform their duties. The complexity of frontline experience can result in mental and emotional struggles that could lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and PTSD.

The Heroes Health app is free to frontline workers and their organizations. Once a week, it guides users through a quick mental health self-assessment. The app evaluates the user’s responses, identifying symptoms like sleep disturbance, elevated stress, or excessive sorrow, and other concerns.

Following the brief assessment, Heroes Health immediately shows the user an evaluation report that allows them to track and analyze symptom trends. It also provides links to low-cost resources for improving sleep, reducing stress, finding a mental health provider, and immediate crisis care.

Health care organizations can choose to partner with the Heroes Health Initiative. For these employers, the app facilitates worker feedback and provides anonymous data regarding mental health trends among their workers. That helps organizations identify areas or units that require additional support, PPE, and other supplies or resources.

Frontline workers continue to shoulder much of the emotional burden presented by the pandemic. An app as quick and easy as Heroes Health could provide much-needed support as they continue to care for others during the crisis.