BOONTON TOWNSHIP — Senator Anthony M. Bucco has introduced a pair of bills to help front line healthcare workers and first responders who are suffering from the stresses of responding to COVID-19. The first bill creates a toll-free hotline they can call for support, while a resolution calls on the federal government to provide additional resources to combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“While the overall number of COVID cases throughout New Jersey is dropping, the psychological toll experienced by healthcare workers through constant exposure to sickness, fatalities, and the tragedy of it all remains,” said Bucco (R-25). “Those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder deserve quick and proper assistance to help them better cope with all they have experienced. I am proud to team with Rutgers University to create a 24/7 helpline that will provide an outlet for our healthcare and first responder heroes to safely share their thoughts and connect with peer support and counseling services.”
Bucco’s first bill, in coordination with the Department of Health and Rutgers University Behavioral HealthCare, would create a toll-free helpline for first responders, health care workers, and other frontline workers experiencing PTSD.
The legislation requires the operators of the helpline to be familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder and the emotional and psychological anxieties unique to first responders, health care workers, and their families. They may also be trained to provide counseling services involving marriage and family life, substance abuse, personal stress management, and other emotional or psychological conditions that may adversely affect the well-being of front line workers.
Bucco’s second piece of legislation urges the federal government to provide aid to New Jersey to combat PTSD due to COVID-19.
New Jersey has more than 120,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 8,000 deaths attributable to the disease.
“While the federal government has donated many resources to help New Jersey in the war against COVID-19, more help is necessary to best combat post-traumatic stress disorder,” added Bucco. “We must ensure that our hospital workers, first responders, and their families have access to the mental health services they need to cope with the trauma and stress they have endured as a result of this pandemic.”
Both bills have bipartisan support in the New Jersey Legislature. Additional legislation to help those on the front lines is forthcoming, Bucco said.