How are community healthcare workers doing now that COVID is over? During the pandemic, 93% of healthcare workers said they were stressed and 76% reported burnout and overall exhaustion. By all accounts, these affects are lingering; a 2022 study showed three in 10 say their workload increased post COVID and in 2022, 1.7 million healthcare workers left the profession.
The inclination to care for others is a core tenet for most community healthcare workers. But how are we these days at taking care of ourselves? Here’s how healthcare workers can improve their efforts to increase their mental well-being.
How to Practice Self-Care When You’re the Caregiver
While organizations have a responsibility to help healthcare workers with the stresses and strains they experience on the job, individuals can also establish a series of comping mechanisms and also take advantage of programs to support their mental health.
The Joint Commission issued some practical guidelines for healthcare workers that include:
- Practicing self-care by engaging in healthy coping behaviors. This includes exercising and eating healthy foods but also engaging in stress-relieving activities that have been effective in your life.
- Taking smaller, incremental breaks throughout the day to recharge yourself.
- Getting more sleep. The CDC says 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep issues. Seeking at least seven hours of sleep a night can help improve your mental health.
- Creating a buddy system at work to cross-check mental health and provide support to your colleagues.
- Staying connected to your friends, colleagues, and family members can help with social isolation.
- Staying informed and in-tune with your body means that you’ll make the commitment to seek help if you need it.
Becoming more mindful of your mental health takes practice. Community healthcare management teams can help by establishing programs to communicate more about mental health issues. Some of their strategies may include:
- Communicating openly about mental health to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding these issues.
- Modeling self-monitoring behaviors. For example, they could lead a check-in at the end of a long shift. Or, they could promote micro brakes throughout your shift to help break the stress cycle.
- Encouraging discussion of concerns and questions to improve the organization. Creating transparency across the organization benefits everyone, but building awareness around mental health and wellbeing can create a better working environment does, as well.
- Creating a supportive environment for utilizing the psychosocial resources the organization offers the team. Educating the staff on the help that’s available through an EAP, for example, is just a first step. The work environment also needs to be supportive of actually using these resources.
Ideally, creating a psychological safe space requires the support of the leadership team. This is well worth the effort, because potentially, it could lessen the chronic turnover felt in both community health and other healthcare settings.
Sometimes lessening stress and improving your mental health requires a change of venue. UHC Solutions partners with community healthcare organizations to find them talent. If you’re ready for a less-stressful environment, we can help.