COVID-19 Mental Health Resources for First Responders

The Virginia Office of EMS thanks you for being on the front lines in helping to serve our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your service as an EMS provider matters, and you truly are making a difference in helping to save lives and defeat this invisible enemy. Nonetheless, these days can be even more emotionally and physically demanding than usual. It is completely normal to be concerned for yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Below are some helpful resources to help you manage stress during the pandemic response. We will be updating this page regularly as more resources become available.

For additional information or questions please contact Karen Owens, emergency operations manager or Vince Valeriano, epidemiologist.

Hotlines & Warmlines


FREE and CONFIDENTIAL Help Available 24/7

  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-986-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746. The Disaster Distress Helpline offers 24/7 emotional support and crisis counseling for anyone experiencing distress or other mental health concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Calls and texts are answered by trained counselors who will listen to the caller’s concerns, explore coping and other available supports, and offer referrals to community resources for follow-up care and support.
  • Safe Call Now: (206) 459-3020 or 1-877-230-6060. Safe Call Now is a confidential and comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for all public safety employees, all emergency services personnel and their family members nationwide.
  • Emergency Responder Crisis Text Line: Text “Frontline” to 741741. The Emergency Responder Crisis Text Line is a global not-for-profit organization providing free confidential crisis intervention via SMS message.
  • 988 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (1-800-273-8255) network of over 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers across the country. On July 16, 2022, the U.S. will transition to using the 988-dialing code. 988 is a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress – whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress across the United States.
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

Local Support

  • VA COPES Warmline: (877) 349-6428 | Mon-Fri 9am - 9pm | Sat-Sun 5pm-9pm.  COPES (Compassionate, Optimistic, Person-Centered, Empowering, Support) is a recently established warm line available to all Virginians who may be struggling with the consequences of COVID-19.
  • Community Service Boards (CSBs) are a great resource for finding local mental health supports and services and function as the single points of entry into publicly funded mental health, developmental, and substance use disorder services. CSBs also have can respond to mental health emergencies, 24 hours a day.

First Responder Specific Therapy & Telemental Health Counseling

  • Certified First Responder Counselor: A Certified First Responder Counselor is specially trained to understand the needs of first responders, including the importance of confidentiality and trust.
  • NVFC Directory of Behavioral Health ProfessionalsThe providers listed in this directory are vetted behavioral health professionals that either have firsthand experience with the fire and emergency services or have completed a training course through the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance to educate them on the fire service and the specific challenges they face. In addition to licensed healthcare professionals, there are other resources for assistance such as chaplains and peer support specialists. The directory is updated once a month as new providers are added.
  • Forge VFR: Forge VFR (Veteran and First Responder) is mission-focused on improving the mental health and well-being of active-duty service members, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Your treatment will be with other First Responders, no one else, and that will make your experience them more comfortable and give you the ability to get treatment with other First Responders who are going through similar issues.
  • IAFF Center of Excellence: If you’re struggling with post-traumatic stress along with co-occurring depression, anxiety or substance abuse disorders, you need treatment from professionals who understand the fire service culture and the unique pressures of your job. The IAFF Center of Excellence connects you to best-practice, evidence-based therapies delivered by clinicians who understand the types of trauma you experience on a day-to-day basis.
  • Christina M. Shultz - First Responder Counseling: Christina offers Virginia-based  counseling and telecounseling support services for first responders. Her goal is to help first responders build resilience in better managing the normal stressors that come with public service and with processing and letting go of grief, shame, and maladaptive patterns that are holding first responders back.
  • First Responder Wellness by Simple Recovery: First Responder Wellness provides trauma-based substance abuse and mental health treatment designed by their experienced, culturally competent team. Their programs exclusively treat First Responders. Their comprehensive curriculum integrates substance abuse treatment with post- traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression treatment, as well as incorporating family systems support.
  • Brower Psychological Services: Brower Psychological Services was developed to address the unique demands of working with First Responders and those in Police and Public Safety, as well as their families. While based in Colorado, Brower offers telehealth counseling services.
  • Save A Warrior​™ (SAW™): is committed to ending the staggering suicide rate plaguing our veterans, active-duty military and first responders. Save a Warrior™ conceive, originate and produce Integrated Intensive Retreat (IIR) program experiences to transform the way our heroes live their lives.

Smartphone Apps

  • Heroes Health: Heroes Health is a free mobile application from the UNC School of Medicine that allows healthcare workers and first responders to track their mental health and access mental health resources.  This Initiative was borne out of a determination to give back to the nurses, doctors, and allied health professionals that make life possible.
  • COVID Coach: The COVID Coach app was created for everyone to support self-care and overall mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Features includes education about coping during the pandemic, tools for self-care and to improve emotional well-being , trackers to check your mood and measure your growth toward personal goals, and graphs to visualize progress over time.
  • Crew Care: an app for first responders that provides mental health insight on an individual’s stress load and associated factors.
  • ResponderRel8: Its tagline "The app that’s always on call", ResponderRel8 is a 24/7 peer-to-peer chat app for first responders only that provides a platform for you to connect, celebrate and commiserate with first responder peers anonymously.
  • PTSD Coach: Created by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this app provides you with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help you manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD.
  • Mindfulness Coach: Created by VA’s National Center for PTSD. Mindfulness Coach was designed to teach people how to practice mindfulness to help manage stress. The app provides a gradual, self-guided training program designed to help you understand and adopt a simple mindfulness practice.

Other Mindfulness Apps:

Exercise and Nutrition

  • ChooseMyPlate: Provides recipes and resources to support building healthy and budget-friendly meals.
  • Move Your Way: Everyone needs physical activity to stay healthy. But it can be hard to find the time in your busy routine. The Move Your Way tools, videos, and fact sheets on this page have tips that make it easier to get a little more active. And small changes can add up to big health benefits!
  • Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: provides information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families, and discusses evidence-based, community-level interventions that can make being physically active the easy choice in all the places where people live, learn, work, and play.
  • Yoga For First Responders® Cyber Academy
  • YMCA 360: free online at home exercise video from the YMCA.
  • Fitness Blender: hundreds of free, full-length workout videos, workout programs, and meal plans.
  • Do Yoga With Me: get a great workout and help to manage stress with these free yoga videos
  • Darbee: High-quality fitness resource - free access, forever, for everyone.

Entertainment & Family Fun

  • Tabletopia & Board Game Arena: Play hundreds of online board games for free with family, friends, and other players around the world.
  • Solitare Bliss: Play 36 free-online versions of Solitaire including Yukon, 40 Thieves, Mind Games, and many more.
  • Google Arts and Culture: Visit top exhibits, zoom in on artworks in mind-blowing detail and browse thousands of stories, photos, videos, and manuscripts. Be your own curator by finding your favorites, creating your own collections and sharing them with friends. Travel anywhere with tours of iconic sites, famous buildings and natural wonders, on your screen or in VR.
  • Duolingo: Learn a language for free! Learning with Duolingo is fun and addictive. Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up.

Substance Abuse

  • Virginia Substance Use Disorder Services: Resources from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
  • SAMHSA's Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator:  This resource is a confidential and anonymous source of information for persons seeking treatment facilities in the United States or U.S. Territories for substance use/addiction and/or mental health problems.
  • American Addictions Centers Resources for First Responders: American Addiction Centers offers a multitude of substance abuse resources for first responders.
  • Alcohol Help: Alcohol Help is an informational resource geared towards reducing the harm caused by alcohol. They strive to provide high quality, well researched webpages surrounding the implications of alcohol use and how to seek treatment.
  • Virtual 12-Step Support Meetings: American Addiction Centers (AAC) will be hosting free virtual 12-step meetings throughout the week. These sessions will be based on traditional 12-step meetings, hosted by a person in recovery, and topics or meeting types will vary based on the group’s preference.
  • RehabSpot: Provides educations and resources on the many issues associated with addiction and recovery.
  • Recovery Village: The Recovery Village® delivers comprehensive treatment services for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. With locations across the country, The Recovery Village® offers patients a full continuum of care, including medical detox, residential services, and outpatient programs.
  • Shatterproof at The Florida House Experience: Shatterproof at FHE is for veterans and first responders who need treatment for drug and alcohol use disorders and other common mental health conditions in this population. The treatment program offers peer-specific support groups, trauma-based therapies, and neurorehabilitation therapies to provide individualized care and expedite the recovery process.
  • Addictions Center: Offers addiction recovery resources for emergency responders and is a referral service that provides information about addiction treatment practitioners and facilities.
  • Drugrehab.com: Information and resources for firefighters surrounding substance abuse and work-related mental health issues.
  • Al-Anon Electronic Meetings: Electronic meetings, like all Al‑Anon meetings, offer help and hope to anyone who is affected by alcoholism in a family member or friend.
  • SMART Recovery: Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is is a transformative method of moving from addictive substances and negative behaviors to a life of positive self-regard and willingness to change. In mutual support meetings, offered online and in-person, participants design and implement their own recovery plan to create a more balanced, purposeful, fulfilling, and meaningful life. SMART provides specialized meetings and resources for a variety of communities, including First Responders, Veterans, Family & Friends, and more.

Need help now? You are not alone!
There is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL help available 24/7 specifically for EMS Providers:

*Links to non-Virginia Commonwealth or non-federal websites on this page do not constitute as an endorsement by the Commonwealth of Virginia or the U.S. government, or any of its employees, of the information and/or products presented on those sites.*