As communities worldwide have become increasingly homebound due to the novel coronavirus, healthcare professionals have rushed to the front lines, working long hours in close contact with sick patients. Given their high-stress role in tackling the global pandemic, a number of mindfulness apps are offering free resources for healthcare workers.
The meditation and wellness app Headspace is granting all U.S. healthcare providers who work in public health settings free access to Headspace Plus, a premium offering that normally runs for $12.99 a month.
With this membership, healthcare workers can access hundreds of guided meditations, ranging from health to sleep, and more than 50 mindfulness exercises though the end of 2020. Interested parties can register on the company’s site, using their National Provider Identifier (NPI) and email address.
Although the free premium tier is only accessible to U.S.-based healthcare providers, Headspace says that it is actively working with global NGOs, health systems and government officials to identify healthcare providers in other countries.
“Healthcare providers are on the front lines of this public health crisis, making sure our communities receive necessary and critical care,” Megan Jones Bell, Headspace’s chief science officer, said in a press release. “That’s why it’s crucial for us to find ways to support their mental health and provide them with tools for managing the very real personal toll this crisis takes on them in particular.”
The platform also offers a free collection of content, called “Weathering The Storm,” to help manage anxious thoughts and stress, and on Tuesday, it announced additional meditation and mindfulness resources for those living in New York, which has been a hotbed for the virus in the U.S.
Although Headspace was among the first mindfulness apps to provide free resources in direct response to the ongoing public health crisis, it’s since been joined by others.
The Breethe meditation app, which costs $12.99 a month, is offering free memberships to all North American healthcare workers during the pandemic.
“Healthcare workers are taking care of us, so we want to take care of them,” said Breethe cofounder Lynne Goldberg. “We’re all in this together.”
The digital platform has also launched a free meditation collection called “Inner Wellness During Coronavirus,” featuring how-tos on reducing coronavirus anxiety, self-care, coping with grief and curated meditation for caregivers.
Another meditation and mindfulness player, Ten Percent Happier, is waiving its annual $99 membership fee for healthcare workers, giving them unlimited access to its library of more than 350 guided meditations and personal coaching.
Many Americans can attest to the emotional toll of the coronavirus as it continues to upend nearly every facet of life. For healthcare workers, who are tasked with making quick life or death decisions all while risking their own lives, the mental and psychological burden weighs even heavier.
In a recent study, looking at mental health outcomes among healthcare workers in China who are treating patients with COVID-19, about half of those surveyed reported symptoms of depression (50.4%). Nearly 45% reported symptoms of anxiety, 34% reported insomnia and 71.5% reported feelings of distress.
Even before the coronavirus spread, burnout has remained a challenge for physicians, and they’ve faced stigma and professional obstacles to seeking treatment for this condition as well as related mental health concerns.
For the broader U.S. population, many of whom are dealing with financial and economic uncertainty, a number of meditation apps are offering free subscriptions, including the digital self-care app Sanvello and the mindfulness app Simple Habit.
“We recognize that many people are now being required to stay home, resulting in loss of income and financial uncertainty,” Simple Habit CEO Yunha Kim wrote in a blog post. “As a response to this macro change, starting today until the end of April 2020, we’ll offer free Simple Habit premium memberships to all people who are financially impacted by this difficult time and can no longer afford to pay. If you’re struggling or in need, we’ll take care of you.”