Our staff know how vital it is to maintain essential services and look after others who need our help. But, we also recognised that looking after ourselves and other staff members is a vital part of keeping the service going. 

Our clinical director Dragos Dragomir explains what we are doing as an organisation to promote psychological well-being:  self-care and mindfulness at the workplace during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Promoting psychological well-being:  self-care and mindfulness at the workplace during the Coronavirus pandemic 

How does it feel when doing what you love suddenly starts putting your life at risk?

This is a question that so many of us, working in the healthcare or in other essential working fields, are carrying for almost a year now. And it most definitely took its toll. It made it so much difficult for us to maintain our focus, commitment, and passion at the workplace.

Thus, supporting our team and safeguarding each of our colleagues’ health and wellbeing, became of paramount importance for our organisation.

It’s not difficult to understand why. Just picture this: your best employee standing outside, alone.

  • At their feet is a blue line running perpendicular to the direction they are facing.
  • Their toes are touching the line.
  • The side of the line where they are standing is their current reality.
  • The other side is everything their current reality is not.
  • The other side is relief from whatever is causing them distress on this side of the line.
  • It could be their uncertainty of still having a job next week.
  • It could be their fear of exposure to the virus when they are caring for their elderly parents.
  • It could be the pile of unread emails in their inbox or the overwhelming lack of energy in dealing with complex emotional issues presented by clients on a daily basis.

At this moment, they are vulnerable. The next problem, request, or needless meeting is going to push them over the line. They don’t know if life on the other side of the line will be better or worse. They don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

All that matters is the other side of the line is different from their current reality. They have no idea what they want to do. They don’t hate where they are, but they have gotten to the point where they are ready to say, “Enough.”

It happens every day, and so much more so since last year. It happens to everyone. Do you notice when you are at the line? Do you notice when your employees are at the line?

Can you step back? Can you help them step back? If you cannot, you’re done. And so are they. And we did not want to ever find ourselves in that position. We wanted to create plans that will support our employees long before they even see that line.

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic last year, here at Gordon Moody we continued to provide support for those most affected by gambling treatment. All throughout the last year we managed to be agile in the way we delivered our interventions and developed responses to the dynamics of our clients’ level of needs. However, over the last months, we became increasingly aware of how this third wave of Covid is really taking its toll on everyone in our team.

We were repeatedly forced to reshape the way we work, there was a constant threat of exposure to the virus, and also a looming uncertainty of the services closing down during lockdown— and all these combined are very difficult to juggle and can place any of us under immense stress. All this multitude of stressors that both frontline staff and the ones working from home face, carry a high risk of exacerbating emotional distress, burnout or more severe mental health issues. We understood that each team, and also each individual was facing and coping with Covid in a different way and we wanted to build a response that took into account those differences and offered all of us support, relief and the so much needed reassurance.

For that, we have implemented a three-part response plan that can support and improve our staff’s well-being.

  1. Firstly, we introduced and encourage the use of the Wellness Action Plan – an evidence-based system used worldwide by people to manage their wellbeing at work – recommended by our colleagues at Mind. This is It is a personalised, practical tool we can all use – whether we struggle emotionally or not – to help us identify what keeps us well at work and what can we do to improve our self-care on a daily basis, what causes us to become unwell and what possible triggers can impact us at work and finally, the support we would like to receive from our managers to boost our well-being and actions and positive steps employees can take together with their manager if they are experiencing stress or poor mental health. An example of such step was the introduction of the ‘3-hours wellbeing break’ that all employees can take throughout the week.
  2. The second part of the response involved something that we already had in place, but perhaps we were not using it as much as we could. This was raising awareness and encouraging our colleagues to use the EAP support provided by the organisation. With EAP they have access to a 24/7 telephone counselling helpline and is a free service to all staff. They can speak in confidence to an accredited counsellor for advice and info. This a confidential helpline that can support anyone with a wide range of issues, including stress and anxiety, health advice, emotional struggles, work dynamic issues, home relationships issues even financial and legal info. There are also online workbooks that can be downloaded. They provide resources and support for a wide range of issues, so well worth a look.
  3. Finally, to further build our resilience skills and our ability to learn to relax in these difficult times, with the support of our colleague Kira a trained mindfulness teacher, we introduced the ‘Finding Peace in a Frantic World’ mindfulness course, that has been developed by Oxford Uni a few years back and used with their staff.  This is an 8 weeks long course providing 1.5 hours of group work each week, with additional short home practices and is focusing on managing stress and building resilience.

And last, but not least, we are continuously striving to provide a transparent communication within the organisation, to find individual-based solutions to support everyone to be able to work at their best capacity and to encourage a sense of togetherness within the teams, that is so important in maintaining our sanity in these strange times.

What are you doing to promote the health and well-being of your employees? 

Gordon Moody

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