Mental Health Care Workers on the Front Lines of COVID-19
Saturday, April 18, 2020
By Michelle Borden, NewBridge Services CEO
I took over as CEO of NewBridge Services on April 1 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to
accelerate in New Jersey. By then, NewBridge was busy addressing the crisis’ impact on our clients, who are among society’s most vulnerable citizens: people with severe mental illness, the elderly, and at-risk young adults.
NewBridge’s dedicated professionals are among the ranks of mental health care workers throughout the state and nation who continue to provide treatment and make sure clients have food, medication and personal care items.
Mental health care workers on the front lines
Our clinicians and support staff have helped clients transition to and get comfortable with telehealth, so treatment isn’t interrupted. Three of our five group homes are staffed round-the-clock, and the other two for at least 12 hours a day to make sure our clients’ daily needs are met. Staff members regularly check in on our homebound seniors and adults with mental illness who live in the community. In addition to bringing food and medication when needed, our staff educate clients about how to safeguard themselves. Young adults in our alternative education and career program, NewBridge Jobs Plus, are doing distance learning and continue to receive emotional support.
NewBridge ensures staff who have contact with clients have protective gear and that our group homes have ample cleaning supplies. The team has organized volunteers to make and distribute protective masks for staff. (We would welcome additional volunteers!)
Support for the community at large
We are providing emotional support to the community at large through outreach on social media and our website. Everyone is welcome to visit newbridge.org to learn about a variety of calming techniques. The goal, of course, is for each of us to find balance in the midst of the imbalance.
We continue to communicate with our donors so they know their support is having an impact. We are finding new ways to innovate, advance, and support our technologies to keep our good work moving forward.
Mental health care is normally a behind-the-scenes endeavor. With worries about sickness and job losses and all the uncertainty of when life can return to ‘normal,’ mental health must be elevated as a priority. I am inspired and humbled to work with a staff who exude a ‘can do’ attitude no matter the circumstances.
When you give thanks to essential workers, please give a quiet nod to the mental health care professionals too. If you would like to support NewBridge’s work, please make a donation at newbridge.org/donate. I receive lots of messages from grateful NewBridge clients. The gist of them all is: ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you.’