Wasilla, Alaska – The Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) recently published a research report investigating the behavioral health impacts of COVID-19 on frontline workers. In addition, a new grant program to support implementation of the recommendations presented in the report was launched today.

According to the study, titled “The Mat-Su COVID-19 Related Behavioral Health Needs Report,”several factors affected the behavioral health of frontline workers during the pandemic. These included all types of stress and the inability to utilize the usual self-care/protective practices that mitigate stress, including connecting with family and friends, gathering for celebrations, rituals of grieving and other cultural practices. Many frontline workers were stressed by not feeling financially secure. The workers were also concerned about many of the same issues that have been reported in national studies including fear of becoming infected with COVID-19, the stress related to shortages of personal protective equipment, stress related to taking on new roles at work, disagreement with others over the risks of disease and constantly changing pandemic guidelines.

“While all residents have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, this research demonstrated that frontline workers were even more severely impacted, especially non-white workers and those from lower income households,” said MSHF Vice President of Programs Karen Koenemann. “The foundation’s new grant program is making funding available to address key areas identified in the report.”

The foundation will be hosting virtual information sessions for potential grantees on Tuesday, July 13 at 9 a.m. and Thursday, July 22 at 3 p.m. Registration for the free sessions is available at

Among the report’s recommendations for which funding may be available are the following:

  • Create a system that ensures frontline workers have access to behavioral health support by identifying and funding sources of behavioral health support for frontline organizations and workers.
  • Provide organizations the resources needed to prevent and identify workers burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.
  • Provide discretionary grants to organizations to be used for self-care, healing and cultural activities.

More than 400 frontline workers provided information and told their stories for the report. An online survey was completed by 358 people and 32 managers and directors of organizations serving on the frontline during the pandemic participated in interviews. In addition, four group interviews took place at community meetings. The frontline workforce was defined as healthcare workers plus workers from the following sectors who delivered essential services during the pandemic: behavioral health, child welfare/domestic violence/sexual assault, early learning/childcare, emergency services, social supports, youth residence programs, and education. Local research firm Actionable Data Consulting was contracted to complete the research.


About Mat-Su Health Foundation: Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) is the official business name of Valley Hospital Association, Inc., which shares ownership in Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. In this capacity, MSHF board members and representatives actively participate in the governance of Mat-Su’s community hospital to protect the community’s interest in this important healthcare institution. The MSHF mission is to improve the health and wellness of Alaskans living in the Mat-Su and the tools it uses include grantmaking, convening of local partners, and policy change. The foundation’s work has resulted in significant improvements in systems that support the health of Mat-Su residents in areas such as behavioral health, child welfare, crisis response, community connections, workforce development, transportation, housing, and senior services. More information is available at .