If you’re not feeling the emotional strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re one of the lucky ones. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed nearly half of U.S. adults report a negative impact on their mental health from the worry and stress about the virus.
But healthcare workers on the front lines of the disease, are certainly feeling at least as much strain as the rest of the population. The prolonged and repeated stressors of the pandemic, as well as long hours and even the worry about transmission to their families, have taken a huge toll on our providers.
How can managers check-in with our vital community healthcare workforce, including clinicians, to determine the status of their mental health these days?
How to Support Your Healthcare Pandemic Workers
First, consider using this as an opportunity to reduce the stigma around mental health support. While Community Health and FQHC clinical teams know the value of self-help and self-care, we all know the adage about how nurses and doctors make the worst patients! Talking about the resources you have available, then setting up a “buddy system” where healthcare workers support each other, will help continually reinforce the idea that our teams are anything but alone.
Communicate more during this crisis. Talk about the resources available, and create a culture that counteracts the stressful environment with empathy. Sharing frequent communications from management about what you’re doing to help your teams is imperative. Offering flex time whenever possible, setting up medication and stress management services, and making sure clinical teams have access to employee assistance programs, will help. All of these efforts are designed to allow even the most stoic clinical leader to raise their hand and ask for help without stigma.
Communication also can re-articulate the sense of purpose that attracts many of us into the community health field. But during this crisis, stress, and burnout can cause many of us to lose sight of why we’re really here. Simply sharing messages of caring and support while reminding everyone that we’ll get through this can help.
Take time now to shore up your approach to employee wellness all year long, but especially during this crisis. This includes mental, physical, and even financial health. What programs does your FQHC or Community Health Center offer for workers? Are you meeting their emotional needs as much as you’re taking care of safety or training issues during the pandemic? How can you improve these programs? The goal is for you to give healthcare workers the support they need throughout the year, but especially now.
Finally, we think it’s also important for leaders to be visible on the front lines during this crisis. If COVID-19 is a battle, the last place you want your generals to be is behind the scenes. Administration cannot and should not hide behind their desks, but instead make rounds regularly as a way to motivate, encourage, inspire, and lead their team.
Managing your healthcare teams during COVID-19 requires thinking outside the box strategies to protect your employees. That’s where UHC Solutions can help. Consider staffing up during this time with temporary workers to give your current teams a break. Talk to us today to find out more.