Public Health: Resilience Training Helps Public Health Workers Thrive | Local
Have you ever been so stressed at work that it affected every aspect of your life, including your family, hobbies, relationships, and overall quality of life? Negative stress at work is a form of trauma. Now imagine this trauma happening for years. This is a reality for many employees working in county public health offices.
The collective stress and ongoing secondary trauma of the pandemic has resulted in an increased rate of staff turnover in local, state and national public health departments.
Secondary trauma often affects caregivers and health workers when working with another person who experiences trauma. This deep connection can lead to emotional, physical and psychological stress and burnout in the caregiver.
There are several solutions to help overcome the secondary trauma caused by the pandemic. One solution to help reduce the strain on public health employees is for departments to provide training and resources to build resilience and strength in these trying times. These measures, in turn, help individuals feel supported and can lead to reduced turnover, reduced sick leave usage and can even increase worker engagement.
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Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Resilience is a set of skills that can be taught, practiced and developed. In the spring and fall of 2021, Lewis and Clark County public health management staff benefited from a unique resiliency training called Secondary Trauma Activates Resiliency-Training (STAR-T). STAR-T focuses on building the skills of health workers and workplaces and proactively addresses secondary trauma, rather than waiting for extreme exhaustion and stress to become unmanageable.
Resilience training works. Employees of our administration team who use STAR-T have provided feedback on their experiences. One noted that “all the resilience skills I had before the pandemic just didn’t work anymore. STAR-T training gave me practical skills that I use daily with my team, coworkers, and even at home, such as grounding, body tracking, and communication skills for asking for help. aid.
Another administration employee felt that the training gives them practical tools to better support their team members. Others have found STAR-T enabled them to recognize their feelings about the pandemic and understand the extraordinary trauma that all medical professionals go through. They have learned coping skills so they can continue to do the work of protecting the health of residents in our community.
It didn’t take long for our administrative staff to recognize the individual, organizational and community benefits of the training. At the Lewis and Clark County Commissioners’ meeting on April 14, administrative staff requested that this training be extended to all LCPH employees. This funding was approved by the Commission at a meeting on April 19.
Public Health staff would like to thank the County Commissioners for their recognition of the importance of prioritizing this training to intentionally build the resiliency tools needed so staff can thrive and continue to serve County residents. Lewis and Clark. Thank you to our fearless leader, Drenda Niemann for her model leadership.
AC Rothenbuecher is the administrator of the Division of Community and Family Health Promotion at Lewis and Clark Public Health.