It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting nearly every aspect of our lives. This inevitably places unprecedented demands on society as a whole. As the pandemic progresses, more and more cases of stress and mental health problems are being documented. Now’s the time to imagine a new way of being; one that’s targeted towards proper strategy and building a fail-proof system.
In Podcast Episode 43, I covered the 3 ways to control your stress throughout COVID-19. The 3 common reasons health practitioners have stress that leads them to burnout are the following:
1. too big of a workload.
2. family and personal lives are challenged due to job.
3. employment doesn’t allow them enough time outside of work to recover.
And Satori’s top 3 ways to manage it were to 1. get a good night’s sleep, 2. get your daily exercise fix, and 3. apply deep breathing as a strategy. These are the 3 most effective ways to manage stress, from a physiological standpoint. They help the body heal, and also help your brain function properly.
How do leadership teams support their health care practitioners and motivate them towards well-being during and after this pandemic?
In this post, I’m citing the research of Gail Kinman, Kevin Teoh, and Anne Harriss on supporting the well-being of healthcare workers during and after COVID-19. A large-scale study conducted in China found more than half of the sample (54%) rated the psychological impact of the outbreak as moderate or severe, with 29% and 16% reporting mild to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, respectively.
Preliminary findings of research on the effects of COVID-19 on the UK population found that the UK population’s depression and anxiety levels increased significantly after the lockdown was announced. Those with pre-existing mental health problems were the first to feel the pinch. And as the pandemic progressed, financial worries and unemployment compounded the feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and frustration. Suddenly my top 3 reasons for burnout seem like a walk in the park for our health practitioners.
With the rise in distress levels being experienced among the general population, healthcare professionals have emerged to be the most vulnerable. Recent research showed that many frontline health professionals are experiencing depression, anxiety, distress, and insomnia.
While the predictors of distress for healthcare workers are still unknown, research exploring their psychological responses to previous epidemics of infectious disease found that the key predictors include: long working hours, lack of support and vital equipment, and feelings of vulnerability or loss of control. Others also include; concerns about the health of oneself and one’s family and feeling isolated.
The current and projected scale of distress among healthcare professionals is of grave concern. Recent reviews of the healthcare workforce’s mental health and wellbeing in the UK revealed that the staff were already demoralized, and mentally and physically depleted. The study further explained how the staff was at high risk of work-related stress and burnout. This is in response to increasing demands and diminishing staffing levels and other resources.
What Do Hospitals Think of This?
While recently speaking with more and more hospital executives, about enrolling into our Fall Program, The Pro-Mind Experience, I’m hearing this; “We have everything covered internally”, or “Our CNO doesn’t think staff feel like taking part in any programs” or “our staff is tired and they won’t do the program“. What strikes me most is that hospital culture, as a whole, is tired – if not exhausted – so any job to motivate their staff must be outsourced, and be innovative and engaging. As to when these executives will take charge of these issues is only a matter of time.
This forced me to pose these two questions:
- Are you a health leader eager to shift your team’s morale towards better balance, mindset and health?
- What might Satori be able to do to support you, the leader?
But here’s the thing, the risk of trauma and suicide was particularly high among some groups of healthcare staff.
The research clearly shows that the existing threats to healthcare professionals’ wellbeing will be compounded under the current highly pressurized conditions. Frontline workers are not only experiencing a rapid increase in the volume and intensity of their work, but also having to cope with additional challenges like harsh working environments, changing protocols, and unprecedented exposure to trauma with little opportunity for orientation and training.
Health professionals are also likely to experience moral and ethical conflicts that challenge their beliefs and personal standards of care. The resulting psychological distress can have profound and long-lasting effects on their mental health, identity, and personal relationship. This will undoubtedly affect their clinical skills and job performance if ignored, making the workplace an ideal environment to run experiential programs like The ProMind Experience.
The Need For Evidence-Based Initiatives
The study went on to state it is now widely recognized that healthcare professionals are in particular need of evidence-based support initiatives to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic on their current and future wellbeing. I have the ideal solution for you because The ProMind Experience supports staff with 2 key features: a process and a mindset. Both are required to effect proper change, and without the process, staff will run around from workshop to workshop never making any changes.
This community-based initiative was created by a coach-trained nurse and educator, for nurses and allied health professionals. While we know that healthcare professionals should be aware of early signs of distress and burnout, their ability to practice self-compassion and prioritize self-care might be diminished (See podcast episode on The Importance of Workplace Health)
Finding joy in the simple things might not be easy to begin with, during a pandemic will require added support and a shift in mindset from the right partnering organization. To foster resilience and recovery, our health care practitioners should be offered more than the standard “in-services” that aid in individual coping strategies, but also be provided a “process”, backed by proper mindset, to enable them to learn such things as acceptance, mindfulness, and evidence-based meditation technique.
For more on meditation, See Episodes 33: 5 Interesting Facts About Meditation, Episode 19: Building A Super-Mind,
Episode 15 on Crafting Your Own Meditation Space and Episode 14: Top 5 Myths of Meditation
It should be noted that support among healthcare professionals is frequently stigmatized, or undervalued, which could be a barrier to seeking help. My own personal opinion is that the type of “support” offered in institutions tends to be outdated. Although it seems to come from a good place, the supporter might lack a powerful mindset and empowerment strategy that’s consistent with permanent change.
Further to that, once staff require help, it’s often a challenge to get them beyond their personal stories, making sick-leaves an easy fix. This would seem, on the surface, to be a viable solution yet keeps the problem active, and undervalues the health professional. Furthermore, a sick leave costs the organization in valuable resources, not only in the short-term but long-term as well.
Towards A Better Solution
A better solution would be to prevent such a breakdown, and leave of absence, and encourage your staff through proper coaching, personal development programs and mentorship, such as what we provide through the innovative and experiential ProMind Experience.
When you realize the benefits of having external partnerships, you might find yourself less stressed about the possibility of losing staff, while also relieving your own staff of further burnout. The last thing you want is advice being provided by staff that are struggling in the same ways, through the same stressful situation. Outside partnerships allow for improved staff engagement. Partnering with Satori is done in 4 easy steps, putting us at the forefront of selling the program to frontline staff.
Organizations play a critical role in supporting the wellbeing of healthcare professionals and other essential workers. Leaders and managers need to be emotionally resilient and have appropriate knowledge, skills, and tools to support their staff during these challenging times. In reality, leaders and managers can’t do it all – they ought to partner with the right experts that will help complement their roles. Partnering with Satori is the ideal solution at this time to effect good leadership.
3 Strategic Principles For Good Leadership
Wu and colleagues have set out three strategic principles for good leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1) Effective crisis management, planning and action
2) Communication that provides up-to-date information and encourages individual empowerment, and
3) provision of ‘continuum of staff support’ that offers a range of initiatives, normalizes feelings of distress and encourages their expression.
I agree with the authors that support from colleagues is particularly important, particularly when work is highly stressful and emotionally demanding. But Satori’s peer-to-peer support community through The Mindful Clinician Community (and The ProMind Experience) helps to not only normalize psychological reactions to these challenges, but empowers our clinicians towards a more mindful approach – rather than perpetuating the same level of stress. This community will continue for years to come, even after graduation from The ProMind Experience!!!
It is widely acknowledged that all types of organizations should assess and manage the risk of work-related stress using a framework such as the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards approach.
Company executives and their HR managers should consider integrating health & wellness programs as part of the company benefits package. When you sign a contract with Satori, you’ll notice that our program gives employees a breadth and depth of tools, incentives, coaching, and community mentorship, such as in The Mindful Clinician Community. As well, a person can feel a sense of privacy to seek-out the expert help required to build a sustainable system that maintains healthy behaviours.
Your Company’s Competitive Edge
Programs like The ProMind Experience provide solutions that maximize the company’s competitive edge by creating healthier and more mindful employees, reducing illness and preventing burnout entirely. We should not forget that key workers typically feel a strong sense of duty to continue working even when exhausted. Therefore, it is crucial to encourage staff to take a day off from the demands of their job to sustain their wellbeing over time.
Although managers play a key role in monitoring and supporting their staff’s mental health, they need the opportunity, time, and resources to effectively perform their duties while prioritizing their own wellbeing. In The ProMind Experience, we run the 6-module experiential program over 7 weeks, reinforcing repeated daily action in short bursts of time to make change and personal wellbeing realistic and do-able. They can listen to a short lesson on the train, bus or in the car, or on a break.
Forming Partnerships To Grow Your Organization
Occupational health professionals who partner with our health organization, Satori Health & Wellness Coaching, are well-positioned to provide staff and organizations with and ideal supportive partnership during and after the Coronavirus pandemic through guidance on critical issues. This program is innovative, and is like no other program on the market. It’s our signature program, Mindful You, that’s been adapted into the digital form to incorporate multiple teaching-learning strategies and 8 powerful motivational triggers that keep people engaged through the process of redefining their reality; one that’s happier, healthier and more balanced.
Findings on a recent report commissioned by the Society of Occupational medicine that examined how OH practitioners and providers can add value to workplace wellbeing initiatives are particularly relevant under current conditions. Satori holds the position that innovative partnering programs like The ProMind Experience can make a substantial contribution to coordinated workplace health and wellbeing programs that seek to build management capabilities, enhance job quality, and improve social relationships in a fun and engaging way.
It is crucial to ensure that OH professionals partner with the right organization so they can meet what will likely be an unprecedented demand for their services.
The wealth of guidance to help address the population’s wellbeing needs during the COVID-19 outbreak is available now. We should all consider the benefits to offering such hospital-wide initiatives to act as a powerful buffer to prevent further stress. Satori Health & Wellness Coaching is at the forefront of this pandemic by providing hospital personnel with an accurate and up-to-date process in wellbeing and personal development.
With input from a multidisciplinary expert group, Satori offers health care professionals the opportunity to identify a ‘good return to work formula’ in ensuring a healthy physical and psychological environment.
The British Psychological Society(BPS) has recently developed a guide that offers healthcare services practical recommendations on how to respond to the pandemic at an individual, management, and organizational levels.
Moving Forward With A Powerful Mindset
It is important not to pathologize people’s fears and anxieties as they are stressful and frightening. Many people will cope well. Most will not experience distress and won’t require formal intervention leading to long-term effects. Having said that, hospitals might consider the Fall of 2020 as an ideal time to put suitable services in place. Now’s the time to support healthcare staff, despite it being during an acute phase of the pandemic.
Why not give health care professionals a great and fun reward to mitigate this stress and avoid the potential aftermath of COVID-19, when demand will undoubtedly grow???
A Few More Questions for the Human Resources Professionals
Researchers have warned that a new workplace culture is needed to overtly recognize how the very nature of the work carried out by nurses and allied health professionals can strain their mental health. They called for action to tackle the organizational causes of stress that increase the burden on staff. The report by the Society of Occupational Medicine paints a workforce that is already under pressure before the weight of COVID-19.
This, therefore, begs me to ask the following questions:
Why not get a handle on the workplace stress now and offer your staff an ideal solution to help them work towards their goals and personal growth, rather than encourage – even perpetuate – the same personal, professional and system barriers?
These are certainly questions that professors’ Gail Kinman, Kevin Teoh, and Anne Harriss have posed themselves, and what’s initiated such research as that in supporting the well-being of healthcare workers during and after COVID-19. Thank you professors, for your work!
To have a chat with Lynn, and be one of Eight leading health institutions to join The ProMind Experience, Starting September 21st, 2020, email me now and we’ll sign you up for a powerful demo! [email protected]