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Arlington, VA — In an effort to support frontline professionals with their immediate and future mental health needs—today, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched NAMI Frontline Wellness: a COVID-19 mental health initiative in partnership with #FirstRespondersFirst. With support from Starbucks, KIND Snacks, Frontline Impact Project, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Thrive Global, Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, and the CAA Foundation, NAMI will contribute to the existing initiative through a community-centered approach that provides supportive resources tailored to the needs of frontline health care and public safety professionals. The initiative launches today during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) on World Mental Health Day.
“#FirstRespondersFirst takes a whole-human approach to supporting frontline workers and their families. From day one, we recognized the urgency to address their mental health needs," said Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global. “The heroes of this pandemic are the health care and public safety professionals who are risking their own health and enduring burnout and exhaustion among many other challenges on our behalf. We're proud to be partnering with NAMI to launch the Frontline Wellness initiative so we can continue to prioritize the mental health needs of our frontline workers."
During this time, frontline professionals are facing countless new challenges in their roles serving the public. Many are reporting fear of contracting COVID-19, passing the virus to family and friends, loss of colleagues and loved ones, PPE shortages, financial pressures, and long hours. In the face of these extraordinary circumstances, many frontline professionals are afraid to seek help because of stigma, or perceived stigma, from employers, colleagues and loved ones. This can delay access to needed mental health supports and contribute to increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicide among frontline professionals.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profoundly negative impact on the mental health of our communities and is expected to worsen over time. People working on the frontlines – including health care and public safety professionals – are facing unprecedented levels of stress,” said NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. “Frontline professionals need our support and care now more than ever and we’re here for them so they don’t feel alone in their struggle. The NAMI Frontline Wellness initiative aims to avoid a crisis now and in the future by providing free, tailored mental health resources."
NAMI has developed a suite of free digital resources to address these challenges which are accessible via NAMI Frontline Wellness. Resources include confidential and professional support, peer support, techniques to build resilience, support for family members, how to identify signs of a potential mental health emergency and suicide prevention information. NAMI Frontline Wellness and #FirstRespondersFirst are collaborating to make sure all resources are easily accessible across both platforms.
“Attending to our collective mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever. We are grateful to partner with NAMI and Operation Gratitude to carry that mission forward and offer tools and resources that support frontline professionals in our communities who are working tirelessly to protect us every day,” said Matt Kress, Starbucks senior manager of social impact.
While online resources are available to everyone, NAMI affiliates in New York City and Los Angeles are piloting local community-based support groups and programming with the hope of national expansion later in the year. To kick off the initiative, volunteers from NAMI, Starbucks and Operation Gratitude, will deliver 1,000 care packages to health care and public safety facilities in both cities while exercising protocols for health and safety. Care packages include information for frontline professionals on how to access helpful resources and product donations from partners.
“Since COVID-19 began, Frontline Impact Project and KIND have partnered to meet frontline workers’ basic needs. Recently these selfless men and women have made it clear that they need resources to surmount significant mental health challenges,” says Michael Johnston, President of The KIND Foundation. “NAMI’s Frontline Wellness initiative is a comprehensive way to address these challenges – we are proud to support them as they take care of those taking care of us.”
To learn more about NAMI Frontline Wellness, or to make a donation, please visit www.NAMI.org/frontlinewellness. Frontline professionals who would like to share a personal story are encouraged to do by posting a video on their social channels and tagging @NAMICommunicate, #FirstRespondersFirst and #NotAlone.
About The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. The organization provides advocacy and public awareness, no-cost support and education programs online and in more than 650 communities across the country so that people and families affected by mental health conditions can build better lives.
#FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation, takes a whole human approach to addressing the needs of our frontline workers in order to support their ability to serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. #FirstRespondersFirst’s fundraising call to action helps provide essential supplies, protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, and critical mental health support and resources to this demographically and socially diverse workforce, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond, through its implementing collaborators Americares, Bright Horizons, CORE Response, Direct Relief, Give An Hour, Global Health Corps, Hispanic Federation, IHG Hotels & Resorts, InnerHour, International Rescue Committee, Marriott International, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Black Nurses Association, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Omada Health, Osmosis, Pivot, The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, World Central Kitchen, and You Okay, Doc?. Powered by Thrive Global's behavior change platform, #FirstRespondersFirst also provides access to Harvard Chan School’s evidence-based content, specifically tailored to this critical workforce, to help improve the physical and mental well-being of healthcare workers.
About Thrive Global
Thrive Global is a leading behavior change tech company helping individuals, corporations and communities improve their well-being and performance through our behavior change platform, storytelling and corporate services. Thrive was founded by Arianna Huffington and launched in 2016 with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. We offer companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance both mental and physical well-being and performance, purpose and relationship with technology. We are committed to accelerating this culture shift around the world. Thrive Global is headquartered in New York City and has offices in San Francisco, Athens, Mumbai, Melbourne and Bucharest. For more information, visit www.thriveglobal.com.
About The CAA Foundation
The CAA Foundation activates the power and reach of the entertainment, media, and sports industries to create systemic social change for a more equitable and optimistic future. Its efforts are focused on public education, workforce development, civic engagement, and in times of critical need, mobilizing into action through crisis relief. Since its launch in 1995, the CAA Foundation has served as the heart of the agency, investing in our communities and helping our clients achieve their humanitarian goals.
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 32,000 stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at stories.starbucks.com or www.starbucks.com.
About KIND Snacks
Since 2004, KIND has been on a mission to create a kinder and healthier world – one snack and one act at a time. Its iconic KIND® bars – made with real, recognizable ingredients – sparked the growth of an entirely new healthy snacking category. Today, KIND has a family of more than 80 snacks that offer solutions for a variety of occasions. All of KIND’s products lead with a nutrient-dense first ingredient – whole nuts, whole grains or whole fruit – and do not contain genetically engineered ingredients, sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners. KIND is majority founder- and team-owned, and every full-time team member has a stake in the company. To learn more about KIND, visit kindsnacks.com.
About Frontline Impact Project
Frontline Impact Project was created by The KIND Foundation, a charitable organization established by KIND Snacks, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform matches frontline institutions with donated products and services, including food, beverages and personal care items. Together with KIND and more than 60 corporate partners, it has donated nearly four million products across 49 states. Following a series of destructive hurricanes and wildfires, Frontline Impact Project expanded its mission to include frontline heroes facing natural disasters. Learn more at www.frontlineimpact.org.
About Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.
About Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude’s mission is to forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide. More than 17 years ago, in March of 2003, Operation Gratitude sent its first four Care Packages to deployed Service Members in Iraq. Since its inception, the organization has given millions of Americans the opportunity to express appreciation through hands on volunteerism and lifted the spirits of more than 1.8 million Deployed Troops, and another 1.1 million recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders and healthcare heroes. Corporate partners and grateful citizens from across the country donate more than 15 million “Wish List” and handmade items each year to fill the Care Packages. Through donation drives, letter-writing campaigns, craft projects, hands-on service projects, and other activities, volunteers are the heart and soul of the organization. For more information visit OperationGratitude.com, or follow us on Twitter at @OpGratitude.