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Frontline workers getting help with mental health thanks to grant for new therapy programs

“It’s meant to be an open space where we can moderate and provide some support and some practical guides of how they can take care of themselves."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We’ve been hearing for weeks now about the anxiety and depression many people are facing because of the pandemic, and that includes the frontline workers.

Now thanks to a grant from the Foundation for the Carolinas, a Charlotte mental health clinic is hosting therapy sessions just for the doctors and nurses who are caring for so many.

Charlotte-area doctors and nurses have what can be an overwhelming burden as they care for COVID-19 patients and their families while also trying to keep their own families safe. 

Dr. Kevin Marra is the Director of Medical Services and a psychiatrist at Hopeway. 

“People are exhausted and one of our focuses is going to be on self-care – all they do 24/7 is hear about COVID," Marra said. "[They] fear bringing it home to their families — they can’t escape it.”

Doctors at Hopeway, a Charlotte mental health facility are starting therapy sessions this week specifically designed for frontline workers.

“Our hope is to provide a space where they can talk with each other," Marra said. "I hope it can be an experience for them that’s helpful.”

Money for the new 8-week program comes from a foundation for the Carolinas grant. 

It is important to teach our children empathy and the best way is by... example. Empathy is a work-in-progress throughout childhood and adolescence and does not simply unfold automatically in children. "While we are born hardwired with the capacity for empathy, its development requires experience and practice."

The idea was developed not long after the nation was shocked hearing about the beloved head of the emergency department at one of the nation’s busiest COVID-19 units in New York. She killed herself after weeks of treating patients. 

“It’s devastating to know there are many more people like her that are out there struggling and there’s such a stigma and barriers for physicians in seeking their own treatment," Marra said.

It's a stigma he hopes is fading now that more and more people are talking openly about mental health

“It’s meant to be an open space where we can moderate and provide some support and some practical guides of how they can take care of themselves and to make sure they have the space to talk about difficulties of what they’re going through," he said.