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4 years ago · · 1 comment

Helping frontline workers cope with stress during COVID-19: actions for team leads

Going to work during the COVID-19 pandemic has placed front-line workers under immense and unprecedented pressures, putting their physical, mental and social well-being at risk. Staff under excessive or prolonged stress become more prone to frequent absence from work or reduced productivity while at work, accidents and mistakes. In the COVID-19 pandemic, this may mean compromised quality and safety of care, breach of protocols and guidelines, increased risk of infections, and compromised capacity of the health system and emergency response teams to fight the pandemic.

While front-line workers have the responsibility of caring for themselves and verbalising their needs and concerns, many of the efforts to prevent and reduce stress and care for mental health of front-line workers must be made by organisations, managers and health administrators.

Five steps to a mentally healthy workplace

Step 1: Show your commitment

– Declare that mental health is a priority to your organisation, starting from the very top.

Step 2: Assess the situation

– Start by assessing the work stressors and mental health needs in the workplace.

Step 3: Make an action plan

– Translate your assessment into a reasonable and practical action plan with set targets and clear indicators to measure progress.

Step 4: Implement and evaluate

– Put your plan to action with clear milestones and targets.

Step 5: Learn and mainstream

– Use regular evaluations to make the needed adjustments. Mainstream your mental health action plan into a clear written policy.

Actions team leads can take to help front-line workers cope with stress during COVID-19

Prepare them for the job

– They must have a clear understanding of their own roles and responsibilities.

– Adequate training must be provided on occupational health and safety topics (e.g. use of Personal Protective Equipment and Infection Protection and Control measures as well as technical training needed to perform their duties (e.g. the latest guidelines and procedures for assessing, triaging and treating patients).

Help them care for themselves

– Provide them with information on stress, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and when to seek further support.

– Equip them with tools and techniques for self-care and stress management and encourage workers to practice these healthy coping strategies regularly.

Protect them on the job

– Provide front-line workers with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment and Infection Protection and Control supplies to protect themselves from infection.

– Protect them from incidents of harassment and violence, including physical as well as legal protection.

– Protect and uphold their rights.

Create a healthy work environment

– Tackle the sources of stress by ensuring appropriate work hours and workload, sufficient breaks between shifts, and that tasks are well-matched to skills and experience-level.

– Consider rotating staff between high-stress and low-stress tasks to distribute pressures.

– Give workers access to the tools they need to deliver safe and high-quality care or services.

– Use regular written communications and team meetings to check-in with workers and keep them up to date with the latest technical tools and guidelines or other pertinent information.

– Use these meetings to also foster team cohesion, and allow front-line workers to voice their concerns or needs, or participate in decision-making in a meaningful way.

Be a good role model

– Adhere to health and safety guidelines.

– Practice healthy coping strategies by taking work breaks, demonstrating healthy habits (diet, hydration, physical activity) and avoiding the use of tobacco, alcohol or other substances.

– Set the tone by caring for yourself. Maintain a healthy work-life balance and practice the stress-management and relaxation techniques that are recommended.

Encourage peer support

– Create a formal or informal platform where peers can share knowledge and provide basic psycho-social support through peer networks, under the supervision of mental health and psycho-social support professionals.

– Establish a buddy-system that allows pairing of inexperienced front-line workers with their more experienced workers, thus providing professional support.

Be perceptive and supportive

– Familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms of stress and burnout, and practice active listening and supportive communication when you approach the front-line workers you are concerned about.

– Pay extra attention to front-line workers who have pre-existing physical or mental health conditions or disabilities, who are facing challenges in their personal lives and those who lack social support.

Give feedback and recognition

– Give front-line workers constructive feedback on their work, highlighting their good performance and opportunities to improve.

– Show appreciation for hard work, and give public recognition to teams and individuals for their service. Small gestures and rewards can go a long way in boosting confidence and staff morale.

Make services available

– Make sure further mental health and psycho-social support services are available for front-line workers who need them, and that they are aware that they can access services confidentially.

– Front-line workers need to also have access to mental health care facilities in case of crisis situations, and psychotropic medications need to be made available to them if they are needed.

Note: This article was shared by World Health Organisation (WHO). Original link is attached below.

4 years ago · · 2 comments

Helping front-line workers cope with stress during COVID-19: actions for peers


As a peer, there are multiple ways you can support your colleagues cope with stress, and stay mentally healthy or manage their mental health conditions at work. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed front-line workers under immense and unprecedented pressures, and put their physical, mental and social well-being at risk.

Peers are able to offer each other personal and professional support in unique ways, and this enables the collaborative problem-solving needed in such unprecedented emergency situations. Not only is supporting colleagues beneficial to the collective performance and relationships at work, but can also promote your own well-being and job satisfaction. Here are some actions you can take to support your peers cope with stress during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Actions peers can take to help front-line workers cope with stress during COVID-19

Be considerate

– Take a minute to consider what types of behaviours might be stressful or distracting to your colleagues who share your workspace and try to be as considerate as possible.

– Casually check-in with colleagues, and ask them to let you know if they would like you to make any changes to your office practices.

Offer support

– Reach out to a colleague if you notice that they are overwhelmed with their work, and ask them how you may be able to support during stressful periods by sharing your expertise or your time while also being mindful of your own well-being.

Strengthen social networks

– Put effort into building a friendly rapport with colleagues and cultivating a collaborative work environment for the team’s well-being.

– Make sure you offer your colleagues support, and consider doing simple actions such as having a coffee break or lunch together, or perhaps taking up a sport or a fun activity.

Participate and become a change agent

– Advocate for innovative ways to create a mentally healthy work environment such as organising an anti-stigma campaign or holding activities to raise awareness.

– Urge your employer to offer stress management education and mental health services.

Check-in and go the extra mile

– Find a moment to ask your colleague how they are doing in private. If they share with you their stress or problems, acknowledge them and listen to them attentively, empathetically and without judgement. If they would rather not talk, respect their privacy and let them know that you are available whenever they need.

– If they are receptive to support, encourage your colleague to think of something they can do to feel better like draw on the positive coping mechanisms they have practised in the past, or brainstorm practical steps they can take to help themselves.

Encourage awareness and help-seeking

– Help colleagues recognise the signs and symptoms of stress, burnout or other mental health conditions, and encourage them to seek support.

– Familiarise yourself with the available mental health services inside or outside your workplace, and offer to connect them.

– Remind your colleagues that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, and that caring for oneself is rather a sign of courage and resilience.

– When a colleague returns to work after time off for their mental health, do your best to behave sensitively yet normally. Reassurance, support and respect from colleagues will help the person rebuild self-esteem and reintegrate in the workplace environment.


– Consider becoming a worker representative, well-being champion or peer supporter. Search for training programmes, and ask your organisation if they may be willing to support you.

– Join, if your workplace has a peer support group. This may be an especially powerful tool if you are someone with lived experience of a mental health condition.

Have zero tolerance for bullying or harassment

– If you witness a colleague being bullied or harassed at work, make sure to acknowledge the act, show your support and encourage them to take the action they find most convenient to them.

– Advocate for and participate in awareness-raising campaigns aimed at fostering safe, healthy and harmonious workplaces free from violence and harassment.

Deal with suicide

– If your colleague indicates that they are about to intentionally harm themselves or commit suicide, remove access to means and do not leave them alone. Seek immediate support from health services.

– If you learn that a colleague has attempted suicide, the best approach is to offer kind non-judgemental support and a listening ear if they wish to use it. If appropriate, you can encourage them to reach out to health or counselling services, and offer to call or go there together.

Note: This article was shared by World Health Organisation (WHO). The original link is attached below.