Coronavirus is a unique and unprecedented situation for healthcare workers. Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus can be worrying. Responding to coronavirus can take an emotional toll on healthcare workers and has the potential to impact their mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.
Guidance for staff
Ask for help if you are struggling to cope or concerned about your ability to care for yourself, your family and patients as you did before the outbreak. You can access a number of support services through the Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit. Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit:
- a free staff counselling service is available through the Employee Assistance Programme
- List of local Occupational Health office and contact details
- for Health and Safety advice and information phone 1850 520 420
Free online programmes
Online mental health service SilverCloud Health is giving free access to all HSE staff to four self-directed online programmes.
The mental health programmes available are:
- Dealing with stress
- Building resilience
- Improving your sleep
- Space from COVID-19
Access the programmes here. Once on the website, complete the sign-up process and enter the access code HSE2020 when prompted to do so.
Phone line to help healthcare workers
Guidance for team leaders and managers in healthcare services
Team leaders and managers should:
- keep staff protected from chronic stress and poor mental health, helping them to have a better capacity to fulfil their roles
- ensure good team communication and information updates from web sources are provided to staff
- rotate workers from high-stress to lower-stress functions, where possible
- partner inexperienced workers with more experienced colleagues. The buddy system helps to provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures
- initiate, encourage and monitor work breaks. Where possible, implement flexible schedules for workers who are directly impacted or have a family member impacted by a stressful event
- advise team members more at risk of serious illness from coronavirus how to protect themselves
Share messages in an easy-to-understand way for staff with additional communication needs. Use forms of communication that do not rely solely on written information. You will find some useful videos to assist with this here.
Guidance on how you can support your staff's mental health is available on HSELand: Supporting your staff's mental health: a programme for HSE managers
The programme will help you to prepare yourself to successfully have a mental health conversation with your staff. This will include clinical and admin scenarios on how to identify signs and symptoms that may indicate a staff member is experiencing mental health issues.
Managers and team leaders - minding your mental health
Managers and team leads are facing similar stressors as their staff, and potentially additional pressure because of the responsibility of your role.
It is important that you also use self-care strategies to reduce your stress during this time. Your team will need you to stay well and staff will benefit from your example.
For more information on staff supports during coronavirus see Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit
For more information on minding your mental health go to YourMentalHealth.ie