NHS APA members, Inclusion, use in-house mental health expertise to support staff during pandemic.
A series of 20-minute online talks has been launched by our members Inclusion , part of Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, to help staff who support those affected by drugs and alcohol, experiencing mental health difficulties or who have sexual health needs to manage their own mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Programmes and Communications Lead for Inclusion, Grace Masinuka, explains: “The Take 20 initiative was launched around 18 weeks ago following feedback that people were struggling to adjust to new ways of working and wrestled with anxiety and stress triggered by the lockdown.
“The talks have been led by our in-house team of mental health practitioners who use their expertise on a broad range of issues. Topics to date have included: mindfulness; gratitude during tough times; emotional regulation; breaking the cycle of negative thinking; managing worry; food and mood; constructive rest, post traumatic growth in difficult times and most recently live mindfulness and meditation exercises.”
Grace continues: “At the start of lockdown many of our staff told us that they were struggling to cope, and that wellbeing was becoming a problem. That’s why we decided to launch the Take 20 talks to help those who are feeling worried about the pandemic.”
The sessions, which take place on Wednesdays and are recorded and available to view back, have already attracted over 900 views by staff. They are run on Microsoft Teams so participants can interact anonymously if they wish.
The popularity of the talks has also seen managers encourage staff to attend and prioritise this time. Entire groups have started to watch the sessions together and another team has committed to playing the talks at the start of meetings.
"We provide comprehensive and inclusive support services to inspire people to fulfil their potential and forge a more successful future. Our staff, who deliver these services, must also be well-supported and know how and where to seek help if it is needed, especially during these incredibly difficult times."
Grace said: “Initially launched as a four-week test, we are now on week 18 and feedback has been superb! There have been so many light bulb moments for people and lots of fantastic tips have been shared."
One staff member shared; "It has given me some things to reflect on in regard to my own wellbeing. I think to this point I've not thought about myself so much and have been focused on trying to be as productive as I was before COVID-19. Although I think I achieved this, the consequence has been that I put a lot of pressure on myself and didn't really think about how to manage myself."
Grace adds; “Because the talks focus on wellbeing in general it takes the stigma out of admitting that you may be struggling and the format is much more engaging than simply presented on a leaflet or sent via email.”
A range of professionals including wellbeing practitioners and members of the psychology team who usually work with the prison communities have all featured in the Take 20 initiative to date.
Grace concludes: “We provide comprehensive and inclusive support services to inspire people to make positive changes and fulfil their potential. Our staff, who deliver these services, must also be well-supported and know how and where to seek help if it is needed, especially during these incredibly difficult times. And as the talks are just 20 minutes long, staff can easily dedicate time for them.”
With plans to continue to provide the talks for the foreseeable future, Danny Hames, Head of Inclusion and Chair of NHS APA, said: “The Take 20 initiative is our way of taking care of our Inclusion workforce and the invaluable work they are doing. We have had to be flexible and understand our responsibilities to staff wellbeing so everyone feels valued, supported and heard.”
Click below to watch a selection of Inclusion's Take 20 staff wellbeing videos.