Given the stress of new techniques, seriousness of the virus, and complexities of infection control in behavioral health settings, it is not unusual to have staff who are suffering from PTSD-like symptoms. Some of our staff stated they are not sleeping well at night with either interrupted sleep or disturbing dreams, are feeling anxious, have loss or increased appetite, and feel easily frustrated.
To help our staff, we do the following:
-Encourage the use of our Employee Assistance Program.
-Share information with our leaders on the signs and symptoms of PTSD with methods to help staff.
-Regularly share tips and information on PTSD with encouragement and guidance on self-care.
-Openly discuss PTSD and stress in order to acknowledge that behavioral healthcare workers are as susceptible to PTSD as other workers (it’s important to make it acceptable and comfortable as possible for workers to ask for help).
-Revised leadership rounds with questions and guidance in regards to stress and wellness. Leadership rounds are great opportunities to provide regular touch points to encourage wellness and reinforce good practices.
I invite anyone who is reading this list to add strategies and guidance. It is critical that we take care of our behavioral health workers during this stressful time. Behavioral health is our area of expertise – what a great way to build up the resilience of our own staff!