February 18, 2021

Senator Hassan, First Responders, and Medical Workers Discuss Mental Health Challenges Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

NEW HAMPSHIRE – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan held a virtual roundtable yesterday with law enforcement, fire fighters, and health care workers from Manchester, Portsmouth, Franklin, and Hanover to hear first-hand how they are dealing with mental health concerns among their staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


See below for coverage highlights:


WMUR: First responders describe growing need for mental health services

By Kristen Carosa


First responders, law enforcement officers and firefighters discussed Wednesday the stresses they're facing because of the pandemic and what can be done to increase mental health services as part of the next federal relief plan.


Those working on the front lines of the pandemic told U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., about what life has been like over the past year.


"I don't think a shift goes by that I don't hear a colleague share their emotional burnout and fatigue with what they are dealing with," said Marsha Davidson, a psychiatric emergency department nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.


Franklin Police Chief David Goldstein said police officers are going through something similar.


"The COVID issue has stressed everyone to the max, not only in the health care field but here as well," he said.


[...] The concerns are the same at the Manchester Fire Department, where they have dealt with more than two dozen cases of COVID-19. They have also seen a change in the type of calls they're receiving.


"The volume of mental health calls we respond to is really stunning," said Chief Dan Goonan. "A ton of mental health and suicide calls, those types of things." [...] 


Caledonian Record: North Country: Helping The Helpers — Resources For Stressed First Responders

By Robert Blechl


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders in the North Country — police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians — were increasingly busy.


[…]Added to that workload early last year was the pandemic, which can create even more stresses of all kinds and burnout and fatigue as they encounter more despondent people in need and try to keep themselves, and the families they go home to, safe and healthy.


On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, held a virtual roundtable with police and fire chiefs and nurses from across the state.


They spoke of the challenges and of the mental health services, peer counseling, and other programs available, including in a rural area like the North Country, where resources for many things have been in short supply.


“These are front-line people who are used to helping others and used to having other people rely on them and I think it is something of a sea change for some of them to realize that they need to reach out for help, and know that requests for help will be met with professionalism and understanding and not stigma, which in the past I think has been a real issue,” said Hassan.


[…]At the Congressional level, Hassan said she will continue to hear from first responders and prioritize their needs and work on legislation that addresses those needs and provides funding.


“All of you have been so magnificent throughout this last year,” she said. “You really have demonstrated grit and grace and resilience. I also understand burnout is real and stress is real and the long-term impact on front-line workers is real. We can give you accolades, but you also need support.”