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Guy meditating in the woods.  Taking care of his mental health.

Team 1st …Your Mental Health Matters


Team 1st …Your Mental Health Matters

Our collective mental health is being tested these days with controversies surrounding the pandemic, politics, and new and changing norms in and out of the workplace. 

At this point it is common to not feel normal. Many people, including some of our own Pathway to Living team members, are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, angry, fearful, burned out, and just plain tired. 

Dr. Anthony Bunin from Behavioral Care Solutions, a Pathway partner, says, “The related stress causes us to operate from the survival portions of our brain.” This is not healthy because over time chronic stress can increase your risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.  

Stress on Pathway’s Frontlines

When Mike Ulm, Vice President of Culture, recently met with a Stoney River Marshfield Life Enrichment Aide, they talked about the challenges and losses associated with the pandemic. The LEA shared that “we are all trauma-bonded.” 

The unique aspect of “trauma,” says Dr. Bunin, is that the core issue is actually the “reality” that we are all facing.  It is not a hidden enemy. It is our response to the real challenges we faced (post traumatic), face now, and worry about facing in the future.  And it all adds up. 

We are here to HELP! 

The good news is that to we have paths we can follow to seek help, guidance, and solutions for better mental health.  

Mental Health Resources 

Resources to help address your mental health include:  
Waterton Care @ Work:                                855-781-1303    Waterton Care Website 
MetLife Employee Assistance Program:     888-319-7819    Contact your supervisor or BOM for more information about Pathway’s EAP
National Suicide Prevention:                        800-273-TALK
Disaster Distress Hotline:                             800-985-5990

Family Care Benefits:                           
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) hotline:   800-950-6264  Free access to therapy for healthcare workers through healthcare workers wellness program, emotional PPE project, and COVID mental health support project.  Website-

Help For Me
The 3 R’s – Recognize, Revers, Resilience  

  • Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.
  • Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations.

Solutions to prevent:    Practice relaxing rituals, healthy eating/exercising/sleeping, set boundaries, take a daily break from technology, nourish your creative side, manage stress, acknowledge your losses.
Recovery strategy #1- Slow Down
When you’ve reached the end stage of burnout, adjusting your attitude or looking after your health isn’t going to solve the problem. You need to force yourself to slow down or take a break. Cut back whatever commitments and activities you can. Give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.
Recovery strategy #2- Get Support
When you’re burned out, the natural tendency is to protect what little energy you have left by isolating yourself. But your friends and family are more important than ever during difficult times. Turn to your loved ones for support. Simply sharing your feelings with another person can relieve some of the burden.
Recovery strategy #3- Re-evaluate your goals and priorities
Burnout is an undeniable sign that something important in your life is not working. Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? Burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and to change course accordingly. 

How to Help My Peers
Peer Support and Relationships
Positive attachment and bonding can suppress a stress response. Social support is key to an individual’s ability to be resilient in the face of trauma and toxic stress. Build on existing ways to connect or create new ones. 
How will you know when stress is affecting your fellow team members? 
       You might see coworkers who: 

  • Struggle to pay attention 
  • Appear tired or low on energy 
  • Display a bad temper or a lack of patience 
  • Seem to be more worried or insecure than before 
  • Show physical signs such as headaches, stomach aches, neck tension, and problems with sleeping or appetite. 

If one or more coworkers in your area appear to be stressed, it helps to put your relationship skills in gear. Show your concern for a colleague and offer some friendly advice. This can help boost overall team morale. 

Consider these tips: 

Talk with your colleagues. Briefly checking on your coworkers to see how they’re doing can be a good way of identifying and coping with stress. If someone’s having trouble, your concern can help as a reminder that he or she is not alone in feeling pressure. Receiving a little friendly support can make a lot of difference to someone. 
Take time to listen and understand. Don’t rush through a conversation if your coworker seems stressed. By listening carefully–without interrupting or judging–you are showing that you care. Ask questions so you clearly understand the problem. If possible, help develop some ideas and potential solutions that your coworker can jot down and consider. 
Show a little kindness. Little acts of kindness can often help. In the morning, make an effort to say hello to those who you haven’t greeted recently. If a colleague seems stressed, offer to treat him or her to a snack break or coffee to relieve some tension. 
Encourage them to get back in the game. If you notice that a coworker is losing interest in an activity he or she once enjoyed, encourage her to take it up again. 
Remind them that it is okay to seek help. that it is okay to seek help. Everyone goes through ups and downs on life's journey and there are times when people need a hand to help them get back to a place of peace and comfort in their live      

Help for Leaders
Provide Information and Care to Know
This crisis will result in a loss of control and power for people. Providing information to and soliciting input from your team is empowering.
Support Continuity
When stressed, people have a harder time managing emotions and staying regulated. Build in time for regulation practices like breathing, grounding exercises, and movement. Model the calm behavior you want your team to mirror.
Prioritize Relationships
Social support and connection can actually buffer a stress response. During times of stress, it’s important to find ways to connect and support each other.
Explain the why behind decisions 
Understanding why something (like a policy or practice) is happening can give people a sense of control and decrease a stress response.
Help team members know what to expect to the extent possible 
In uncertain times, having any amount of certainty or predictability is helpful. We aren’t suggesting that you provide answers that you don’t have; however, sharing information when it’s available will decrease stress.
Reframe Behaviors
It’s important to remember that emotional regulation and impulse control are more difficult during times of stress. People may not be showing up as their best selves during this period of fear and chaos. We need to give everyone grace and realize that challenging behaviors are a reflection of the stress we are under. We need to all exercise patience and understanding.
This crisis is requiring organizations to think differently about how they conduct their work and provide services. Given the tremendous needs and the huge numbers of people affected, it will be necessary to merge, expand, or collaborate across organizations. We can’t do this in isolation.   "We don't heal in isolation, but in community."     — S. Kelley Harrell-Gift of the Dreamtime
Give people the benefit of the doubt.

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