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The Consequence of Unforeseen Mental Health Needs of Frontline Workers


Jeanette Yoffe M.A. M.F.T.


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Author of Groundbreaking Interventions: Working with Traumatized Children, Teens and Families in Foster Care and Adoption and What s Your Name, Who s Your Daddy? a one woman play about growing up in foster care and adoption available on Amazon and Audible. She has appeared on the OWN and TLC Network, as a Psychotherapist teaching about Adoption in the shows Raising Whitley and Long Lost Family.

Doctors and nurses are emotionally and mentally exhausted due to COVID19 and it’s not over yet!

In our culture in the U.S., there’s no sympathy for stress.

It is important to know we all have windows of stress tolerance, but when we exceed our window of stress tolerance we can experience high-stress states which can last long term. If there are no disciplines in place to support lowering stress levels this can create toxicity. Those working on the front lines should be mandated to receive mental health services to prevent toxic levels of stress at this time.

As a psychotherapist, my concern is nurses and doctors will become compassion fatigued while caring for others, and not receive the care they need for themselves and become intoxicated with TOXIC STRESS.

Toxic stress has negative wear and tear on the brain, memory, nervous system, and heart.


Groups of Scientists at Harvard University coined 3 types of stress that helps us understand the body’s biological response to stress and what happens inside the body for children and what is at risk for adults if left unnoticed.

Front Line Workers are experiencing 3 Types of Stress

Positive stress: seeing a few patients day to day, triggers stress response but it doesn’t last very long

Tolerable: experiencing serious illness, surviving a natural disaster, triggers the stress response, but needs support from another person to calm down and practice coping skills

Toxic: the same elevation of above, the stress response system does not go back to baseline, and stays in this high-stress state for days, months, or years. And there is no response from anyone supporting and helping the person.


To stay resilient: we need to learn coping skills, learn how to adapt to a new normal and feel a sense of control.

Sense of agency: feeling control over your own life. 

They are vacillating between tolerable and toxic stress daily due to COVID19.

It is my recommendation that they receive mandated mental health care at least 20 minutes a shift.

Support group, individual therapy or listening partner

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