Frontline workers across the country are dealing with unprecedented stress, but mental health therapists in South Florida are doing their part to ensure the psychological well-being of their colleagues on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“We’ve never really gotten support to manage what it’s like to take care of patients day in and day out then realize you can’t really help them then they die. Then we just have to keep going, give report, go home, come back the next day, and there’s never support for us. I’ve seen some really terrible things in my career,” said Carmen Presti, nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Presti has been a nurse for 20 years. She works in the ICU at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. For the past few months, she’s been working specifically with COVID-19 patients.
“I’ve seen Middle Eastern respiratory virus at our institution where we had to practice, very tough PPE, I’ve seen influenza, H1N1, I’ve seen all of that. I’ve never seen one disease process come in and dominate an entire institution,” said Carmen.
“A lot of frontline workers are very much on autopilot, like all of us when we get overwhelmed or stressed, we check out,” said Joshua Joseph, Clinical Mental Health Counselor of South Florida Integrative Medicine.
Joseph and his team are offering free therapy sessions for front line medical workers.
“This is not something that we’re in control of which makes it important to connect with people who are autopilot too,” said Joseph.
Doctors, nurses, technicians, emergency responders, and hospital administrative staff are invited to join.
The sessions are provided by licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
The purpose of the group therapy is to provide a safe haven for healthcare professionals, like Carmen, who treat and care for patients infected with the COVID-19 virus.
“With the frontline workers I’ve connected with, my hope is that they find some sort of empowerment or peace from these groups. Hearing from others with similar stories. Just being able to get a perspective from myself or a psychiatrist who would be a part of the group with me,” said Joseph.
“I allow myself to cry with family, hug family in the time we used to be able to do that, hold a patients hand, and allow myself to feel sadness,” said Presti.
The private therapy groups will meet via a video conferencing service for 90-minute sessions for six weeks, on Fridays. For more information on how to sign up and reach Joshua, click here.