The UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health have launched the Heroes Health InitiativeOpens in new window to help support the mental health of first responders and health care workers during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The app, developed in partnership with Google, is available through the App Store/Google Play Store in the United States, free of charge to first responders, health care workers and their organizations.
For individual health care workers, the Heroes Health app delivers short, weekly mental health self-assessments and displays symptom summary reports to help frontline workers better understand the state of their own mental health and changes over time. The app also provides links to immediate support and mental health resources, emphasizing free and low-cost services.
The Heroes Health Initiative was founded by UNC School of Medicine physician Dr. Samuel McLean, research vice-chair in the Department of Anesthesiology and an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine. As a practicing emergency physician, a COVID-19 unit worker and a COVID-19 survivor who contracted the virus and infected two of his family members, McLean understands firsthand the great challenges frontline workers face.
“First responders and health care workers are facing a lot of challenges right now,” McLean said. “There is the personal risk of severe illness or death. Much worse, there is the anxiety and fear of infecting loved ones. This an even greater challenge for first responders or health workers who live with someone particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. It’s important to give first responders and health care workers a simple, quick way to regularly check in on their mental health and immediately find resources. It is also important to provide organizations with tools that help empower them to care for each other.”