Dr. George said:

“Staff request my help either directly, via their managers or Occupational Health. I have met individuals in all sorts of roles, grades and departments across the hospital and have been struck by their resilience. Their dedication and commitment to work is admirable especially when they are often dealing with some really difficult personal circumstances. They tend to put themselves last on a very long list, so it is a big bold step recognising and asking for help and they are always so appreciative of my time.

Staff have experienced a great deal of uncertainty and loss in the past 18 months and common themes include feeling ‘stressed and anxious’ or having ‘nothing else to give’. They worry that they are struggling and not coping with daily demands like they did before and their usual strategies are not working. For example, Alma was always someone who loved her job and raced through her work, but she was noticing she had lost her drive, felt highly anxious about work, and was unable to switch off when she got home. I try to help by normalising some of their experiences, help them understand what has contributed to this and what might be making the situation worse. I draw on evidence-based interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help them develop self-awareness, self-compassion skills and use value-based actions to help get them back on track.

In some cases, staff have been struggling with their mood or anxiety for some time. In Ben’s case he noticed things getting worse not better. He felt flat most of the time, was withdrawn at work, not sleeping and getting in late to work which was causing problems with his manager. For others who have experienced mental health difficulties in the past, symptoms may have resurfaced. In these cases, I try to assess the level and impact of their difficulties, discuss possible treatment options and direct them to services that can help.

Aside from offering individual support, I am involved in a range of group work. I facilitate a regular Long Covid Peer Support Group.  I am often invited to run psychological debriefs following a traumatic event or host an online wellbeing talk to help people recognise traumatic symptoms or signs of burnout. I am passionate about offering psychological support to teams and have facilitated a variety of in person and virtual reflective groups. The groups offer a space for staff to open up and share how they are feeling with their peers. The feedback received shows staff feel less alone, more supported by their peers and more willing to talk about their feelings with their colleagues. One of the biggest challenges is enabling staff to get away from the demands of work to attend sessions or groups.  However, it is these spaces that help create safety and cohesion amongst teams, which is vital to building resiliency in our workforce.”