The main points of the article are:
The drama of major events, involving destruction, disruption or both, can readily become a trauma for some. The impact on victims, families and communities can be serious, with symptoms lasting for weeks and even years.
Duty of Care
There is a clear duty-of-care responsibility on organisations to do their best to safeguard employee’s mental health or improve their emotional resilience. There are real benefits to accrue if employees are helped, and there are dangers for not doing so.
Any care package shouldn’t just be about post-incident recovery, however, as there is also a lot to do before and during an incident. Within such a wide field, this article is about the former.
It starts with proactive leadership. First, emotional resilience must not be viewed as an ‘add-on’ that is left to others such as HR departments to implement.
Second, senior management should have a regular awareness of, and active engagement with, the mental health and well-being of staff.
Third, companies must have up-to-date details of the next-of-kin of all their staff so that they can be contacted quickly in an emergency. Contacts at trades unions or staff associations can also help mobilise support.
Building trust is an on-going process, whatever the size of the organisation. If employees have trust in their colleagues, above and below, then they are more likely to feel confident and committed to the task, and gain support from those around them in stressful times.
Establishing teams and identifying partners (a buddy system) early by working together routinely will help to strengthen bonds and provide mutual reassurance when difficulties arise.
Education, Training and Learning
Imparting knowledge (education) and developing skills (training) are separate tasks but are critical in fostering emotional resilience. For example, training people how to respond to an apparently stressed person is different from explaining why someone reacts the way they do. Learning how to utilise knowledge and skills to achieve a shared purpose is also a resilience challenge.
All three elements are important for individuals, groups and communities if they are to guard against trauma and prepare people in advance.