Frontline health-care workers are not only risking their health but also facing an unprecedented level of psychological trauma brought by COVID-19.

Jessica Sullivan, a local therapist who owns three counseling clinics in Monroe, Warwick and Middletown, hopes an online support group that she has established recently would provide a place to connect and skills to cope with the stress.

She said the longer working hours and worries about getting sick or about infecting their family members have created a new trauma for health-care workers. She has seen a surge in requests among clients.

The support group aims to encourage health-care workers to prioritize their mental health, share their experiences and learn specific skills in response to the pandemic.

"Even in a group setting our therapist can help assess what type of trauma someone is experiencing and recommend specific skills that might be beneficial for their experience. Making a general recommendation is always as helpful as having a professional to assess individual situations," Sullivan said.

The first of the five one-hour sessions will start on May 5 and continue every Tuesday until it is no longer requested, Sullivan said. The sessions are open to all health workers at no cost.

The session will be led by Danielle Medina, a psychotherapist at Nourish Your Mind and clinical social worker at a hospital. She will identify needs and offer advice while participants weigh in through Zoom conferencing calls.

Sullivan said it is very beneficial to have a support group system in place to manage stress, and any health-care workers who are exposed to this type of trauma right now should be asking for support.

"It is very important right now for their self-care and mental health to be prioritized so they can continue to provide the care that they are giving to their patients on a daily basis," Sullivan said.