Addressing COVID-19’s Mental Health Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted healthcare systems and service delivery for medical providers across the nation. And although UI Health staff and frontline workers are well trained to address the most crucial issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the psychological toll of the pandemic affects all.

Recognizing the importance of mental health support, UI Health has established the COVID Emotional Support Line, a new resource to help staff manage stress, anxiety or depression related to work during the pandemic, providing free and confidential assistance to staff needing emotional support or resource information.

Since its launch in early April, the support line has been an invaluable resource for front line clinicians as well as all hospital staff. “Any staff member can be impacted, and feel stressed and exhausted while working in the COVID-19 response,” said Erin Tobin, Supervisor of Psychiatric Social Work in UIC’s Psychiatry College, and coordinator of the support line.

“In addition to being on the front lines of the crisis, UI Health staff is dealing with personal stress issues such as being distanced from friends and family, childcare, and balancing home and work commitments, all in the middle of a crisis seemingly of no end,” said Tobin.

The dedicated staff of the support line consists of volunteer personnel from UI Health including social workers, psychologists and medical residents. Each volunteer is certified and trained in psychological first aid. The support line provides a full gamut of services, including individual and group counseling, grief counseling sessions, as well as referral services for staff in need of additional resources and support going beyond the support line’s services.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire UI Health staff has been an inspiration, working tirelessly to provide the highest quality of care to patients from the most vulnerable communities. The support line serves as a safety net, for the safety net. You can’t take care of others, if you do not take care of yourself. Key to our continuing our phenomenal response to the pandemic is maintaining your own health, safety and well-being in these challenging times,” said Tobin.

The COVID Emotional Support Line is available 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Friday, at 312-996-4432. In addition, the support team is able to provide therapy via Zoom. The support team includes a Spanish speaking therapist who is able to work with UI Health staff who may be more comfortable conversing in Spanish.