Building a 3-Pronged Mental Health Program for Healthcare Employees

It is vital to support the mental health of your team right now. Healthcare workers and administrators are bravely bearing the burden of this collective trauma and the impact on their own well being now and into the future cannot be ignored.

Creating meaningful support for healthcare employees should be top priority.

What could or should that look like? We've put our heads together with HR teams at several large health systems to brainstorm the key elements of a solid program to support healthcare-industry employees.

1. Educate managers on trauma-based and related behavioral health conditions

Goals

  • Equip managers to identify and compassionately guide staff and colleagues to appropriate resources when they observe risk factors
  • Prioritize early intervention so that trauma doesn’t become rooted across the workforce

Suggested Structure & Logistics

  • Initial training, 1 month follow up training and 6-month refresher training
  •  Distribute a pre-training survey to solicit questions and requests and gauge level of knowledge
  • Include up to 30 attendees per training – grouped by level of knowledge
  • Have trainings facilitated by LCSW, PhD, or similar
  • Make facilitator available to attendees following each training for one-off questions, consultation and follow ups
  • Share recording of training and associated course material
  • Train new managers on initial curriculum within 3 months of hire

2. Host facilitated psychoeducational group sessions 

Goals

  • Provide staff with info about post-trauma reactions, grief and bereavement, effective coping strategies and when to seek professional consultation in a supportive group setting

Cover topics including:

    •  Understanding grief in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic      “community loss”
    • Trauma in the time of COVID-19
    • During a response: understand and identify burnout and secondary traumatic stress
    • Healthcare responders and stress
    • Care for yourself to care for others: patient relationship-based model
    • Staying connected to self and others – healing through connection
    • Anxiety and depression – coping with stress, fear and worry
    • Mindfulness and stress reduction
    • Ways to support your children

Suggested Structure & Logistics

  • Master-level facilitators should follow a structured content syllabus
  • Offer groups multiple times throughout the week to accommodate shift schedules
  • Managers and HR can encourage group participation to employees if risk factors are observed
  • Promote in the break room, company newsletters, internal intranet etc.

3. Give access to a support hotline

Goals

  • Facilitate access to a confidential hotline that allows clinicians to engage with peers offering support
  • This is cited to be a format where clinicians typically feel most comfortable opening up

Suggested Structure & Logistics

  • Create or leverage a toll free number to provide access from at least 8 am-midnight, 7 days per week
    • Managers and HR can encourage utilization
    • Promote in the break room, company newsletters, internal intranet etc.

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If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline at 1.800.273.8255. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.