Friends of Firefighters Provides Virtual Mental Health Services to Ease Pandemic Trauma

News 12 Brooklyn - April 15, 2020

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A nonprofit organization is offering virtual mental health services to all FDNY firefighters.

"On top of fighting the fires, most of them have been exposed, it's fair to say at this point but if they haven't been exposed it's likely that they will be,” says Nancy Carbone, executive director of Friends of Firefighters.

Carbone started the Friends of Firefighters nonprofit to make sure firefighters had the mental health help necessary going forward after 9/11. During the coronavirus pandemic, its services are now available to all FDNY firefighters, active and retired.

"Right now we're hoping to provide them with a sense of security, that's the ability to talk about what it is you're going through,” says Carbone.

The nonprofit offers individual and group counseling for firefighters and their families, and now that’s all turned virtual. It launched a campaign to fund additional counselors to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Firefighters actually can't go home unless they bring it into the house with them so the families are exposed, there are firefighters that will sleep in their car. Several who are living in the basement and don't go upstairs and the kids don't see them,” says Carbone.

Retired Lt. Tony Mussorfiti says for those with PTSD or health issues from 9/11, as well as current first responders who are afraid for their families, this is a very tough time.

"You sometimes feel like you're the only one who may be feeling a certain way...you know all the anxiety that this brings on...just to know that you aren't the only one who's going through this and then being able to talk to people and get it out in the open,” says Mussorfiti.

The counseling services provided are free, confidential, and unlimited to firefighters.