Mind Your Mental Health - Medical and care staff
Staff working in hospitals, inpatient and outpatient treatment centres, but also doctor’s surgeries as well are under a great deal of strain just now. Every day, they provide care and treatment to people who depend on their help under extremely challenging conditions. Their workload and responsibilities are enormous burdens to bear, and can be draining. Not to mention the constant worry of becoming infected and passing the infection on to someone in need of care. The question of whether the protective measures taken are sufficient, or whether the virus has already begun to spread within the institution can also be very unsettling in terms of routine work life, and can even lead staff to feel a sense of helplessness. During a time of constant worry and concern for others, it’s important that you also look after yourself.
Take good care of yourself: Take breaks little and often during your workday – just a few minutes – to take a few deep breaths and regain your strength. Don’t forget to eat and drink. Try your best to maintain your typical work structures as much as possible. This will give you a sense of security and certainty that you will pass on to your patient.
Here are a few of the support services available, plus some helpful tips for managing the daily stresses of your job:
More tips for working during the coronavirus pandemic are available at:
- https://www.psyga.info/arbeiten-in-zeiten-von-corona (German only)
For information on aspects of occupational health and safety in the health and social services sector during the coronavirus pandemic, check out the guidance issued by the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:
Keep well informed: Keep abreast of current developments to a useful degree – through your employer and team lead. It can be a good idea to keep up-to-date on your own for your own peace of mind, but small doses are recommended. It’s important to rely on reputable sources of information, such as the BZgA or the Robert Koch Institute:
- www.infektionsschutz.de (German only)
Relieve stress: Regular discussion among your team helps you all to bear this heavy responsibility together. Once you clock off, try to leave your work behind so you can enjoy your time at home. Rituals like going for a walk or taking a shower can help take your mind off work. When you catch yourself thinking and worrying about work problems, distract yourself. You could listen to your favourite song, cook something or get some exercise.
The German Nurses Association offers free psychotherapeutic counselling for all nursing professions:
- https://www.dbfk.de/de/themen/psych4nurses.php (German only)
- PsyGA – a New Quality of Work initiative service: https://www.psyga.info/was-uns-umtreibt (German only).
Supporting your team as a manager: Healthcare staff are currently under an enormous amount of strain. The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on all those who care for vulnerable people. Providing your team with the right support is an important, and undoubtedly challenging, task for you as a manager.
Keep your team informed about current developments and encourage an open dialogue surrounding the stresses and demands being placed on them. Keep an eye on the mental health of individuals on your team and talk to your team about possible support and counselling options. Given the demands healthcare staff are facing, it is important to provide your employees with time and space to recover. A clear division of responsibilities can also provide some effective relief.
More information and resources are available at the links listed below.
- Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2020). Brieﬁng note on addressing mental health and psychosocial aspects of COVID-19 Outbreak. Version 1.5 (February 2020) Available in English at https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/iasc-reference-group-mental-health-and-psychosocial-support-emergency-settings/interim-briefing
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2020). Mental health and psychosocial support for staﬀ, volunteers and communities in an outbreak of novel Coronavirus. Available in English at https://pscentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/MHPSS-in-nCoV-2020_ENG-1.pdf
- Petzold, M.B., Plag, J. & Ströhle, A. (2020). Umgang mit psychischer Belastung bei Gesundheitsfachkräften im Rahmen der Covid-19-Pandemie. Der Nervenarzt, 91, 417–421. Available in German athttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00115-020-00905-0#Fig2
- World Health Organization (WHO). Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak (Messages for team leaders or managers in health facilities). Available in English at https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf
Implement protective measures in care homes and other care facilities: The spread of the coronavirus and its many mutations means it is still important to take consistent measures to protect care home residents and staff. It is often a challenge to adequately and clearly communicate why certain types of protective measures are necessary. This can be especially true when working with older people who may no longer be able to fully follow and comprehend their environment and what is happening in the world outside.
Use available advice and assistance in implementing protective measures:
- The German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) has compiled information about the coronavirus in simple, easy-to-understand language: https://www.zusammengegencorona.de/leichtesprache (page available in simple German only).
- The Lebenshilfe organisation offers a range of information on the coronavirus, coronavirus regulations and protective measures in simple language. This may be useful in communicating with seniors: https://www.lebenshilfe.de/informieren/familie/empfehlungen-zu-covid-19-corona-virus/#c5443 (German only).
- Specific recommendations for care homes and other care facilities are also available: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Pflege/Dokumente.html (German only).
- The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (baua) offers some general information on protective measures in healthcare settings: https://www.baua.de/DE/Themen/Arbeitsgestaltung-im-Betrieb/Biostoffe/FAQ/FAQ_node.html (German only).