Managing Stress During a Crisis
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
A proactive stress management plan focuses both on the environment and the individual. A clear organizational structure with defined roles and responsibilities for linestaff responders, leads, supervisors, and managers reduces the potential for staff stress. An effective manager is familiar with the many facets of worker stress and takes a wide range of steps to integrate stress management strategies in the workplace.
As a supervisor or manager you must assume shared responsibility for promoting a positive and healthy work environment, and not rely exclusively on workers initiating their own self-care practices. You should address the following dimensions when designing a stress management plan that prioritizes environmental and organizational health:
Managers today face the challenges of supplying energy and passion, promoting a positive attitude, and creating an environment in which people feel connected to their work and their colleagues. Managers can boost employees' perception of strong management support through feedback, open communication, and high visibility-that is, through a dynamic and supportive leadership style, one that engages others so as to raise each other to high levels of motivation.
The following are principles of leadership that you can apply in the ordinary course of your daily life: meet challenges head on; be curious and daring; create a culture where failure and error are looked upon as steps toward success; and demonstrate personal courage to galvanize a team or organization that lacks resolve. The most inspiring opportunities for courage come when you face the longest odds.
At the disaster scene, you, as a manager, can provide certain supports for workers to mitigate stress and help them effectively perform the tasks at hand.
Minimizing Stress During the Crisis-At the Scene
The ending of the disaster assignment, whether it involved immediate response or long-term recovery work, can be a period of mixed emotions for workers. Though there may be some relief that the disaster operation is ending, there is often a sense of loss and "letdown", with some difficulty making the transition back into family life and the regular job. The following are action steps that can help ease the disengagement and transition process for workers.
This information has been excerpted from SAMHSA's "A Guide to Managing Stress in Crisis Response Professions." DHHS Publication No. SMA 4113 Printed 2005
If you feel you need additional information, you may find this list of resources to be helpful.
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