UK-based Clinical Psychologist, Dr Serra Pitts recently wrote an article for 87%, a platform that delivers a new and unique approach to managing and improving mental wellbeing in the workplace. In her article, Dr Pitts outlined 11 key areas to assist the UKs healthcare workers practice selfcare and navigate mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Cellnutrition feels that Dr Pitt’s guidance may be beneficial to all of our COVID-19 Frontline Heroes including the NHS, Retail and Manufacturing Industry, Care Associations, Police, Fire, Refuse Management, Delivery and Taxi companies and so many others.
According to Dr Serra Pitts, the 11 Key Mindfulness Markers on using feelings of Anxiety to your benefit include:
- Manage Stress. The feeling of being under pressure is a likely experience for many Frontline Heroes and colleagues. Please be reassured that this is a normal feeling in the current status quo. Stress and associated feelings are not a reflection of weakness or that you are ill-equipped to perform your job. Managing and nurturing your psychosocial wellbeing is as important as managing your physical health during this period.
- Practice Self Care. Frontline Heroes are urged to take proper care of themselves during this time. This includes helpful coping strategies such as getting enough rest during work and sleep between shifts if possible, nourishing the body with healthy food, necessary supplements and essential hydration, doing dedicated exercise for at least half an hour a day, staying in touch with friends and family and using humour to lift the spirits. Tobacco, alcohol or other drugs such as high caffeine intake are considered to be unhealthy coping strategies. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing. This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
- Manage Social Avoidance. Due to stigma and fear, some Frontline Heroes may experience social avoidance by friends, family and the community. Where possible, stay connected with loved ones via digital platforms and networks. Colleagues may be experiencing the same thing. Talking is a great way to release anxiety. Turn to your colleagues, your manager or other trusted persons for social support if needed.
- Use Your Words. Speak where possible and use clear and easy to understand language when sharing information or messages with intellectually, cognitively and psychosocially disadvantaged. Also, team leaders are encouraged to speak to staff members as opposed to only relying on written forms of communication.
- Know When and How to Provide Support. The Humanitarian Intervention Guide provides guidance for addressing priority mental health conditions and is designed for use by general health workers. It’s advisable to have a basic working knowledge of how to provide support to anyone affected by COVID-19 and how to refer them to the relevant available resources.
- Protect Your Staff. Ongoing high levels of stress may lead to poor mental for staff. Monitoring mental and physical wellbeing means that staff members will have a better capacity to fulfil their roles. It’s best to focus on longer-term occupational capacity rather than repeated short-term crisis responses.
- Create Open and Accurate Channels of Communication. Ensure good quality communication and accurate information updates are provided to all staff. Practical tips include rotating team members from higher-stress to lower-stress job roles. Creating a Buddy System where more inexperienced team members are paired-up with their more experienced colleagues. The buddy system helps to provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures. Ensure you build in time for colleagues to provide social support to each other.
- Provide Access to Confidential Mental Health Support Services. Team leaders are encouraged to provide staff with access to confidential mental health support services such as counsellors or psychologists.
- Provide Response Training. It’s recommended to train orient responders, including nurses, ambulance drivers, volunteers, case identifiers, teachers and community leaders and workers in quarantine sites, on how to provide basic emotional and practical support to affected people using psycho-therapeutically first aid.
- Identify and Manage Mental Health Complaints. Manage urgent mental health and neurological complaints such as delirium, psychosis, severe anxiety or depression within emergency or general health care facilities. Appropriately trained and qualified staff may need to be deployed to these locations when time permits, general health care staff capacity in mental health and psychosocial support should be increased.
- Accessibility to Medication. Ensure availability of essential, generic psychotropic medications at all levels of health care. People living with long-term mental health conditions or epileptic seizures will need uninterrupted access to their medication, and sudden discontinuation should be avoided.
Written by Dr Serra Pitts, CPsychol