In Behavioral Health News’ Summer 2021 issue, MHA’s Vice President of External Affairs, Jenna Velez, LCSW, discusses the potential for post-traumatic growth in our lives, and how this concept can extend into our work places. Following the events of the past year, organizations have the opportunity create positive change for staff and foster a work environment that is responsive to trauma and encourages growth.
Promoting Post-Pandemic Growth
Post-pandemic life is at the forefront of most people’s minds right now. How could it not be when it reaches into every corner of our lives? Post-pandemic socialization, employment, childcare, recreation; the list goes on and on. It is not uncommon to hear people talking about a return to normal, often with wistfulness and a sense of relief. While many things will look and feel like they did two summers ago, let’s not forget that things will never be quite the same. Having experienced the widespread trauma of a global pandemic and all the losses associated with that, amidst the spotlight that was shone upon the racial injustice in our country, we will not and should not return to the status quo.
MHA’s Chief Planning Officer, Barbara Bernstein, PhD, MPH, discusses the importance of addressing the impact that the past year has had on the mental health of frontline workers, who have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of the pandemic. Understanding the impact can help organizations identify trauma-informed services, resources and training opportunities to support the unique and diverse needs of frontline workers.
Addressing the Needs of Frontline Workers
Throughout the past year, I have been struck by the degree to which attention to mental health and wellness, specifically of the impact of trauma on mental health, has entered mainstream discussion. “Frontline Workers” (FLW) who continued to show up for work despite personal risks have been heralded across the media. The concept of who constitutes a “Frontline Worker” expanded as we recognized our collective dependence on the individuals who keep shelves stocked, streets cleaned, children educated, transportation running, etc. Simultaneously, attention to the impact of trauma on communities at large as well as on “Frontline Workers” has entered the dialogue. Those who work in the behavioral health and increasingly in other sectors have been steeped in principles of trauma-informed service delivery and staff support for quite some time. However, sensitivity to these issues has not been embedded in the workplace universally, nor do the practices of individual organizations create policy.