What is it like to be in a front-line role for Covid care? To be the E.R. nurse, the social worker, or the mental-health counselor? The minister or the corrections officer? The people of all professions, in and outside of medical healthcare per se, who are responsible for providing care and support to others? The ones who don’t get to work remotely from home or stay socially distanced from the people they serve? 

New Discussion & Support Group Starts June 7

A weekly online discussion and support group for front-line workers launches at COVID Support VT on June 7. The group is free and open to all who identify as front-line workers. COVID Support VT staff will provide a structured environment for open discussion and tips for coping and wellness. Sign up here.

The new group is modeled after a long-standing customized support group created for Vermont’s Agency of Human Services (AHS). (Read more about that below.)

Front-Line Workers Hard Hit by Pandemic Stress

Front-line workers – a term borrowed from wartime and aptly applied to the war against Covid – have been hard hit by pandemic anxiety. In a recent Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 62 percent of front-line health-care workers said their mental health was negatively affected by Covid-related worry or stress. One in five said the hardest part of working during the pandemic was the fear of infection for themselves, their family members, or patients.

Vermont’s front-line workforce is no exception. Katie Whitney is the director of Organizational and Human Resource Development for the State of Vermont’s Agency of Human Services. As such she organizes trainings and professional development for the state’s 4,000 or so human-services employees. They span six state departments and include all state-employed healthcare and mental-health workers plus workforces at the agencies for children and families, disabled Vermonters, health access, and corrections.

Front-Line Workers: Gatekeepers in the Trenches

“This is the gatekeeper workforce that has been in the trenches since the beginning of this pandemic,” Whitney says. “We’ve seen spikes across the board in stress, anxiety, and depression. They’re feeling compassion fatigue and burnout. Folks are really looking for opportunities to manage stress and anxiety.” 

Whitney worked with COVID Support VT to develop a series of workshops and support groups for AHS employees, which have been ongoing since March. These sessions, part of our customizable workshops program, inspired the new public group for front-line workers that starts June 7. 

“These group meetings have really opened doors for promoting resilience in our workforce,” Whitney says. “We want to offer more opportunities like this for our employees.”

Find Resources for Front-Line Workers

To learn more and find authoritative resources to support the mental health of front-line workers, see our First Responder Covid-19 Resources.

The Vermont Department of Mental Health’s website includes information on coping with stress for service providers and self-care resources for first responders and medical personnel.

Workshops Available Upon Request

COVID Support VT can work with you to craft a workshop that fits your group’s needs. Our staff develop workshops upon request on topics such as re-entry anxiety, wellness and recovery, compassion fatigue, supporting staff through Covid, grief and loss, and more. We also offer expertly facilitated activity and discussion groups for all age groups. Request a customized workshop here.

Learn about our other FREE online workshops and discussion groups here.


Need to Talk? 

Call 2-1-1 (option #2) or 866-652-4636 (option #2) for free, confidential, one-on-one counseling. Our Support Counselors are available Monday – Friday. 

In Crisis? 

If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can: call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825; text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7; connect with your local community mental health agency for 24/7 support. 

Find Help

Find resources and tools for coping with stress at www.COVIDSupportVT.org. Follow COVID Support VT on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And, to stay up-to-date, sign up for our newsletter and blog.

Learn about upcoming Wellness Workshops from COVID Support VT, and Town Halls we’re hosting in partnership with community organizations.

One-click translation to 100 languages of most everything on the COVIDSupportVT.org website, plus Multilingual Resources & downloadable materials in 10 languages common to Vermont’s New American immigrant and refugee communities. 

COVID Support VT is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Departments of Emergency Management and Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability services and supports. 

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