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NC university launches mental wellness app for first responders

“Heroes Health” is available for free download for first responders and healthcare personnel to assess their mental health symptoms and access support resources

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The “Heroes Health” app launched by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Health delivers short mental health self-assessments weekly for first responders and healthcare personnel.

Photo/UNC School of Medicine

By Laura French

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Health have launched a free mobile app to help first responders and healthcare personnel assess their mental health and access wellness resources.

The “Heroes Health” app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store in the United States and is free of charge for first responders, healthcare workers and their organizations, according to a UNC Health news release.

The app provides short, weekly mental health self-assessments and displays symptom summary reports so frontline personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic can understand the state of their mental health and how it may change over time.

The app also contains links to immediate mental health and support resources, including free and low-cost services.

Individuals can download the app for their personal use, or agencies and organizations can use the app to perform worker outreach and aggregate anonymous data to identify areas where support is most needed. Department leaders can receive anonymous group-level summaries to identify mental health trends at their organization, and workers also have the option to confidentially share feedback and individual mental health summaries to receive support from leaders.

The app is part of the Heroes Health Initiative, a partnership between researchers from the UNC School of Medicine and Cooper University Health Care to connect frontline personnel with mental wellness resources, as well as understand the mental health needs of first responders and healthcare workers to develop tailored solutions for those communities.

“It’s important to give first responders and health care workers a simple, quick way to regularly check in on their mental health and immediately find resources,” said Heroes Health Initiative Founder Dr. Samuel McLean, UNC School of Medicine physician, research vice-chair in the Department of Anesthesiology and attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine, in a statement. “It is also important to provide organizations with tools that help empower them to care for each other.”

The mobile application is HIPAA-compliant and was developed by the UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery, Google Cloud and volunteers from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, according to UNC Health. The program is funded by donors including mental health nonprofit One Mind, The Rockefeller Foundation, Bank of America, the Lauder Foundation and individuals.