With the number of new COVID cases, deaths and hospitalizations on the rise, New Jersey has launched two helplines for frontline health care workers and first responders.

“The holiday season can be a stressful one in good times, but for countless frontline workers the pandemic has made things even harder on their mental health,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday. “Please know first, that it is OK to not be OK. And second, that help is available and just a phone call away.”

The Department of Human Services in partnership with Rutgers University Behavioral Health care is providing emotional support and crisis counseling to these workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

The HEAL NJ Healthcare Workers COVID Hope & Healing Helpline for doctors, nurses, hospital staff and other health care personnel can be reached at 1-833-416-8773, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, with emergency support available 24/7.

The RISE: NJ First Responders COVID Hope & Healing Helpline for law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS professionals and others can be reached at 1-833-237-4325.

It also offers live support from trained specialists and peers daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with emergency support available 24/7.

“Our frontline health care workers and first responders have seen far too much heartbreak and tragedy,” said Murphy. "We want to make sure they have a safe place to talk about their experiences, their anxieties and trauma.”

He pointed out from the start of the pandemic, these individuals have risked their lives every day “in the battle against COVID, caring for our families while they worry about the health and well-being of their own families and of themselves. In every sense, they are heroes, but even heroes can need help.”

The governor added members of the general public can reach out to the New Jersey MentalHealthCares helpline at 1-866-202-HELP (4357), which also operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

He said everyone is invited to call and talk with a trained specialist about emotional or mental health concerns.

The line can also be reached by texting NJHOPE to 51684.

An American Sign Language video mental health help line for deaf and hard of hearing people is also available by video-calling 1-973-870-0677.

The new helplines are being made possible by $1.7 million in federal funds awarded to the Department of Human Services from FEMA and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support behavioral health services and expand crisis counseling during the COVID-19 crisis.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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