Looking after yourself and supporting your colleagues (advice for healthcare professionals)

Last published 21 January 2021

As you face the unprecedented challenge of coronavirus (COVID-19), you and your colleagues might experience a range of emotions – from anxiety to fear, anger to helplessness. Good Thinking has gathered some useful resources to help you look after each other at this difficult time.

Psychological First Aid

According to the World Health Organization, psychological first aid is about providing “humane, supportive and practical help for fellow human beings who have experienced an extremely distressing event”. It includes the following elements:

  1. Create a sense of safety
  2. Create calm
  3. Create self-motivation
  4. Create social connections
  5. Create hope

Find out more about psychological first aid in this article and this guide. You can also do PFA training with FutureLearn.

COVID Trauma Response Working Group

The COVID Trauma Response Working Group has been formed to help co-ordinate trauma-informed responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. Made up of psychological trauma specialists, co-ordinators of the psychosocial response to trauma and wellbeing leads at NHS Trusts, it is being co-ordinated by University College London and the Traumatic Stress Clinic at Camden and Islington NHS Trust.

The working group has produced this advice about coping with stress for hospital staff, which includes:

  • Give yourself permission to take breaks during your shifts
  • Eat, drink and sleep properly
  • Stay in touch with friends and family
  • Engage in physical activity
  • Talk about how you are feeling

It has also produced guidance for planners of psychosocial response to stress experienced by hospital staff, which The King’s Fund has made into a quick reference graphic. The guidance includes:

  • Provide good, clear, timely communication, information and training
  • Promote wellbeing through flexible and responsive resourcing
  • Foster team spirit and cohesion
  • Provide high-quality psychological and wellbeing services for staff

NHS staff bereavement resources

With support from a wide range of organisations, colleagues and staff networks, NHS England and NHS Improvement have developed a resource to help NHS staff understand different bereavement practices and how colleagues may experience grief so they can have compassionate conversations with those who have experienced loss.

The pack, which is available on the NHS website, includes:

  • Information about bereavement and compassionate leave
  • Tips for line managers and colleagues
  • Bereavement practices broken down by religion and culture
  • Links to bereavement support helplines

Other useful articles and websites

If you or your colleagues are feeling anxious, stressed or depressed or you’re having trouble sleeping, Good Thinking can recommend NHS-approved apps and other resources to help with your mental wellbeing. You can also use our self-assessment tool to give your mental health a check-up.

If you or your colleagues would like to speak to someone, call the NHS staff support line on 0800 069 6222 or text FRONTLINE to 85258 for 24/7 support via text message.

For more guidance on looking after your mental wellbeing, read Good Thinking’s advice for healthcare professionals and listen to our podcast with Professor Neil Greenberg.

If you’re a parent or carer, take a look at our advice for the children of essential workers and volunteers.

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