WINDSOR, ONT -- University of Windsor psychology professor, Dr. Ben Kuo is providing psychological services to frontline healthcare providers who may be feeling stressed, overwhelmed or distressed by being on the front lines of this COVID-related health crisis.

Kuo is among more than 200 psychologists across Canada offering services for free to frontline workers.

It’s a telehealth initiative organized by the Canadian Psychological Association.

“They were recruiting volunteers to offer pro-bono services and I answered the call,” Kuo said.

Kuo, who has worked with refugees and people who have survived wars and natural disasters, says there are parallels with the current pandemic.

Dr. Ben Kuo

“It is absolutely a form of trauma,” Kuo said. “You might be worried about your own safety going into the hospital everyday, especially if there is a lack of PPE (personal protective equipment). You might be thinking, ‘Am I going to get sick from this,’ or, in the extreme, ‘Am I going to die from this?’ This is a realistic fear.”

Psychologists offer services in many languages. Kuo’s speaks Mandarin, Taiwanese, Cantonese, and English.

The service is open to anyone providing healthcare, personal support, or working in a setting where healthcare is provided, such as shelters, group homes, correctional facilities, or long-term care settings.

“This initiative allows the frontline workers a very confidential, private, safe place to really process those experiences that were very difficult and that they cannot speak to their family members, or their friends, or their partner but to be able to speak confidentially to a professional psychologist. So they can feel freed and open about anything that comes to them, emotional or even past history, trauma and just being able to be open in releasing the difficult feeling they may have.”

Those reaching out to a psychologist for help can expect a return call within 24 hours.