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Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus”), a pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, announces the launch of a free, confidential mental health warmline for Bergen County first responders, law enforcement and healthcare professionals.

The call line was developed in response to the increased need for support for those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis who are surrounded by the traumatic loss of life due to the virus each day. The call line begins operating on Monday, May 4th and is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at: 1-551-800-HERO (4376).

The HERO Warmline is a specialized confidential call line staffed by CarePlus experts experienced in working with first responders and trauma-related dispatches. In Bergen County, one of the New Jersey counties hardest hit by the virus, CarePlus recognized the need to launch this community resource to help those working on the frontlines process trauma, anxiety and other forms of emotional strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the tragic loss of life in our state eclipsing that of 9/11, the COVID-19 crisis is not only impacting our community as a whole but is taking a major toll on the mental health of our first responders on the frontlines of the pandemic,” said Amie Del Sordo, Senior Vice President, Hospital and Community Services, CarePlus. “We recognized an enormous need to support these individuals in order to help them process their emotions, cope with trauma and connect them to rapid access support and services through CarePlus so they can prioritize their own health and wellness and continue to help others in the community.”

The substantial emotional impact of the virus can cause heightened anxiety, depression, substance abuse and grief among first responders on the frontlines of COVID-19. These challenges are exacerbated by conflicting information surrounding use of personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing guidelines and new COVID-19 regulations emergency personnel must adhere to when responding to crises in the community. One of the largest concerns weighing on first responders is contracting the virus themselves and bringing it home to their families.

“I always tell my officers that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness,” said Robert Guidetti, Deputy Chief, Paramus Police Department. “Those of us on the frontlines of the virus are dealing with unprecedented concerns and high stress situations, making it more important than ever to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. As a free service, this is an invaluable resource that law enforcement, first responders and healthcare professionals should absolutely take advantage of if they need support during this crisis.”

A team of professionals at CarePlus have been trained to prioritize these calls and provide premier access to specialized support, including: linkage to resources, recommendations for specific services and connection within 24 hours in person or via telehealth.

Beginning Monday, May 4th, Bergen County first responders, law enforcement and healthcare professionals are encouraged to contact The HERO Warmline at 1-551-800-HERO (4376) Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. for free, confidential support and services.

For psychiatric emergencies, please call CarePlus’ 24/7 crisis line 201-262-HELP (4357) for immediate assistance.