Beyond the Pandemic: Preparing to Respond to the Needs of Frontline Workers

Beyond the Pandemic: Preparing to Respond to the Needs of Frontline Workers

Earlier this year, legislation was passed that directed the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health “convene a workgroup and report regarding frontline worker trauma informed care” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This group was launched in February with Donna Bradbury (OMH) and Glenn Liebman (MHANYS) as co-chairs and is comprised of thirty trauma-informed care champions from a variety of fields and perspectives from across the state.

Since its inception this group has diligently worked towards achieving their objectives as defined through the legislation, Chapter 33 of the Laws of NYS 2021:

  • Identify evidence-based tools to track the impact of COVID-19-associated collective trauma and the needs of frontline workers;
  • Identify or develop training opportunities on how to support the mental health and wellness of their impacted employees for organizations that employ frontline workers;
  • Identify evidenced-based trauma-informed support resources and learning opportunities for frontline workers;
  • Identify or develop a mechanism to inform and refer impacted frontline workers experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 to behavioral health services and supports;
  • Consult with any organization, government entity, agency, or person that the workgroup determines may be able to provide information and expertise on the development and implementation of trauma-informed care for frontline workers.

Upon completion of their work, this body will submit an array of recommendations to inform a report that the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health will submit to the Governor.  It is of primary importance that recommendations build on resources currently available in New York State while accurately addressing gaps that could result in unmet needs.  Similarly, great care is being taken to be culturally responsive and equity-focused at every level.  The group intends to provide an array of recommendations that can be implemented with individuals, within employment organizations, and in communities.  While the depth and breadth of the challenge is immense, the group remains committed to demonstrating care to those professionals in NYS who have given of themselves to care for all of us during the pandemic.

Please watch for our newsletter on July 15th to learn more about this group’s work from the perspective of one of its members!

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