Free online professional mental health service launched for frontline workers

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly launching the new service from Turn2me

Free, instant messaging service for frontline workers provided by Turn2me, the first organisation in Ireland to provide professional mental health services entirely online



23 November 2020

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A new, online professional mental health service to support people who are working at the frontline during Covid-19, has been launched by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

The service, which is being provided by Turn2me with funding from Sláintecare, is free and available for anyone who self identifies as a frontline worker – from healthcare professionals to those working in retail and hospitality, and from teachers to tradespeople.

Service details

Founded in 2009, Turn2me was the first organisation in Ireland to provide professional mental health support services entirely online. Its new service for frontline workers is a peer support, instant chat service. Each session is facilitated by a mental health professional and supported by trained volunteers.

There are 20 groups available each week and there are job specific groups available, as well as groups based on shared issues such as stress, burnout and how to maintain a healthy work life balance.

Groups are scheduled at different times in the day throughout the week to accommodate shift workers, and participants can remain anonymous when online. The content and timings of the groups were developed following consultation and discussion with frontline workers from different disciplines.

‘A debt of gratitude’

“It has been a difficult year for everyone across the country, but especially for our frontline workers,” said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. “While the majority of people were asked to stay at home, our frontline workers went to work…We owe them, and all frontline workers, a debt of gratitude. These experiences will have taken a toll on many, which is why this online professional mental health service from Turn2me is so important.”

Brian Holohan, clinical manager with Turn2me noted that demand for its services spiked by 386% at the peak of the pandemic earlier this year.

“The adverse psychological impact of working in such stressful circumstances, while at the same time dealing with the reality of Covid-19 in their personal lives, should not be underestimated,” Holohan said.

“There’s a large evidence base that peer support, like the service we’re launching for frontline workers, is effective and that it can also act as a helpful gateway for people who haven’t reached out for help before,” he added.

“If you’ve been struggling in any way, please know that you are not alone and that talking will help. We have a team of mental health professionals and volunteers all over the country who are there to support you. Help is at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Peer support

As well as being facilitated by a mental health professional, peer support is an important part of the turn2me model. Elaine O’ Donoghue from Kerry is a community builder volunteer with turn2me and having worked as a teacher for more than 10 years she understands the pressures facing frontline workers.

“Many frontline workers feel the need to maintain a brave face, and to act like they’re always confident and in control; for teachers for example, in front of the children, their parents, and your own friends and family,” O’Donoghue said. “Admitting you’re stressed or struggling can feel like a sign of weakness but of course it’s not. Talking to other people in the same situation can really help.”

“Sometimes it can be hard to know where or how to start when you feel mentally unwell,” she added. “All you need to do is go to your phone or laptop and logon to The thought catcher and support groups are like a scaffolding to help you take the first step and provide a starting point for conversation. There’s a community of people there to support you and who know what you’re going through. There’s also the option to access professional counselling.”

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