In mid-March it began. I had shifted to online-only sessions, and the eerily similar stories from clients in the healthcare fields started to concern me. Nurses, doctors and others began telling me they were riddled with anticipatory anxiety due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Stories of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington were coming into client sessions. States began “stay at home” and “shelter in place” orders, which caused anxiety in most of my clients. A few days later, I was hearing multiple concerns from healthcare professionals about being given one simple mask and being told to “make it last until it falls off your face.”
As most of us modified our routines to socially distance ourselves, I began to think about the folks who did not have that option if they wanted to continue to be employed. I wondered how grocery store employees were feeling. I thought about my super kind mailman and wondered how he and his family were doing. As I ordered my Amazon items, I thought about the truck drivers, and people working at gas stations. And I wondered ….can any of these human beings, all of whom are at greater risk of exposure to keep us safe, fed, and functioning, get mental health support?
Many service jobs do not include insurance benefits. None of the affordable healthcare plans available for self-purchase have low deductibles. And, therapists who accept insurance often have packed practices with long waitlists.
And so, on Thursday, March 19th, I decided to do something about it. I quickly made a website that held the intention of being a free connection service to therapists in multiple states who were willing to offer short-term, low-fee online sessions to those on the front line. I emailed all of my fellow therapy colleagues and asked them to spread the word. And it grew like wildfire! Within a week, we had a network of close to 3000 therapists, participating in every US state. My dream is to further grow our network of pro-bono and low-fee therapists so that we can offer even more support to those in need.
Having lived in NYC, 4 blocks from the World Trade Center during 9/11, I know firsthand how critical our front line workers are. They are heroes, and they are fighting a war for us right now. To each and every essential employee out there working for us, so that we can stay safe out home, THANK YOU. These sessions are a small token of thanks, from us, to you. You are appreciated beyond measure. You are important. We acknowledge and honor you.
Specializing in trauma, Jennifer Silacci, LCSW, SEP, has been in private practice for 15 years, presently, in Boulder, Colorado.