Prevention vs Treatment services in the workplace

To increase productivity in the workplace and prioritise staff wellbeing organisations need to implement prevention services as much as treatment services when supporting staff mental health. 

FD Consultants is a global psychological health consultancy. We find that organisations use our services after an incident occurs to offer ‘treatment’ services to staff to help the organisation and individual recover. This is an important part of mental health support. 

But at FD Consultants, we want to do more than treat crises. We want to encourage organisations to invest in ‘prevention’ services, to build a stronger and more resilient organisation and workforce. Preparing staff for the journey ahead, by providing strategies for resilience building and informing them of the stress signs to watch out for, will reduce the risk of mental health issues in the workplace.  

Working and living through a pandemic is challenging and people have shown how adaptable they can be. Individuals are feeling the impact of this on their mental wellbeing; the longevity and uncertainty of surviving through a pandemic erodes our personal resilience. Coronavirus has forced into the limelight the importance of psychological support services for staff. Therefore, through this crisis organisations are offering their staff more preventative services such as our, ‘Stress Management’ workshop, ‘Mental Health Awareness’ workshop for managers, and out ‘Vicarious Trauma’ workshop. 

At FD Consultants our ‘crisis response’ services make up the majority of the work we carry out. Organisations reach out for our support when managing a critical incident. We can offer ‘crisis management support’ to senior managers, ‘psychological debriefs’, ‘psychological first aid’, and ‘trauma specialist counselling’ (including ‘traumatic grief counselling’) to help the organisation and individual recover from a major crisis. We specialise in trauma care and have therapists trained in EMDR and TF-CBT (trauma approaches recommended by WHO, APA, NICE).  

Our prevention services make up the minority of the work we do; this consists of several training programmes such as, ‘stress management’, ‘trauma awareness’, ‘mental health awareness, and ‘psychological first aid peer support. We also offer ‘pre-deployment consultations’ and ‘yearly mental health screening’ for staff. We want to encourage organisations to integrate prevention measures to support staff into their framework. This can improve an organisation’s culture and create a healthy and resilient organisation. By giving staff the tools to recognise the signs of stress, trauma, burnout or compassion fatigue, we enable them to reach out for support when necessary. Research has shown that the earlier someone gets support, the quicker they will recover and can prevent long-term illness.  

In our workshops staff learn how to manage healthy boundaries and identify destructive communication patterns, enabling them to take some responsibility in their own self-care. The research I conducted when writing my book “Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers: A Roadmap of Trauma and Critical Incident Care” (Dunkley, 2018) highlights that emergency first responders and aid workers often ‘overlooked their own self-care for the greater cause.’ To change an organisational culture our approach needs to be ‘bottom up and the top down’.  

Top down’ is where senior leadership role-model good self-care and prioritise implementing best practice mental health services for staff. Stress, anxiety and trauma are contagious, if senior managers are struggling it will cause a ripple effect throughout an organisation. Which is why FD Consultants offer mental health awareness trainings specifically for managers.  

‘Bottom up’ change recognises that all staff are responsible for managing their work/life balance and healthy boundaries. Individuals need to be empowered to take responsibility for themselves and give themselves permission to say ‘No’ when work is unsustainable, rather than work themselves into the ground. If we take a helpless, victim role, and focus all our energy on expecting ‘top down’ to change or ‘save us’ we will only be left feeling resentful and make ourselves ill. Our workshops make sure we cover ‘top down’ as well as ‘bottom up’ strategies for building resilience. 

Staff who are exposed to traumatic material through their work, whether directly or indirectly, are at risk of developing vicarious trauma. Staff who work in emergency first response, mental health charities, journalism and media, counter terrorism, IT social media analysts, and the humanitarian sector often have high-pressure jobs, with demanding workloads, including unsociable hours or shift work. Therefore, we recommend all staff attend our half-day ‘stress management and resilience building’ workshop as part of their induction process . Additionally, members of staff whose work exposes them to traumatic material, directly or indirectly, should attend our half-day ‘vicarious trauma and trauma awareness workshop’

Instigating ‘mental health peer support’ programmes into an organisation can help challenge stigma and create a healthy organisational culture. Peer support programmes are cost effective and can help reach staff that are in remote locations or have limited access to psychosocial support. Additionally, ‘yearly mental health screening’ programmes will safeguard staff from the risk of developing mental health issues due to the nature of the work. This service will also highlight when an individual may need additional support. Identifying mental health risk early can improve recovery rates and work performance.  

Make this year the year your organisation implements high quality, best practice, psychosocial support services for staff. 

If you would like to discuss any of our services further, then please contact us on [email protected]

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Work with FD Consultants

FD Consultants is here to help any organisation looking to offer their staff with effective, empathetic, and collaborative psychological support. We are a source of hope and strength when it feels like you haven’t got any left. Reach out to our team of specialists today to discuss the situation you or your workplace is facing, and let us find a proven, evidence-based solution to navigate you through this challenging period.

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Molly and the Two Pigeons (Audiobook ver)

Molly and the Two Pigeons is a short story for upper primary and lower secondary school children to teach them about Coronavirus in a fun and light-hearted way, and records a significant period of time in history. It could also be used as a teaching tool for parents or teachers.

A loveable puppy called Molly forms a friendship with two racing pigeons, Destiny and Grace, who live in a wooden hut in the adjacent garden. Grace is kind-hearted and takes a liking to Molly, Destiny is arrogant and is known as the fastest pigeon in the South, proven by his collection of medals. Their circle of friends expands to include Marv the wise Mandarin Duck, Flash Gordon the Goose, and Merlin the Mosquito.

This strange group of friends become united through one cause, to find a cure for the Coronavirus and help the people. Their adventures take them far and wide. They travel to China and learn about the origins of Coronavirus. They explore the Yangtze River, where they learn about the legend of the mountain peaks. They head to South Korea, where they learn about “Track and Trace” to prevent the spread of the virus. They also visit Oxford, England, where they explore how a vaccine is made. Their trip to Oxford coincides with a visit from Prince William, who Molly takes a great liking to and manages to get a royal stroke from.

Proceeds will be gifted to a charity to support the NHS and all those needing additional support from the impact of Coronavirus.

Trauma and counselling interview (Flirt Radio)

Mindfulness Exercise Series: Breathing & Relaxation

More than ever, people are talking about mindfulness. But what is it and how could it help you? Mindfulness can help you manage your wellbeing and mental health. It can enable you to:

✓ feel less overwhelmed
✓ improve your sleep quality
✓ positively change the way you think and feel about your experiences (especially stressful experiences)
✓ increase your ability to manage difficult situations
✓ make wiser choices
✓ reduce levels of anxiety
✓ reduce levels of depression
✓ reduce levels of stress
✓ reduce the amount you chew things over in your mind
✓ have greater self-compassion

Mindfulness is not fluffy nonsense nor is it a passing fad, there is a great deal of research evidencing that mindfulness changes the plasticity of our brain. But, it does take effort and work to develop mindfulness skills and time to practice them.

In this, the first series of mindfulness exercises I share some simple breathing and relaxation techniques to help you unwind and take some time for yourself.

If you like this exercise then please get in touch with FD Consultants today to find out about their mindfulness and wellbeing courses.

The Role of Community in Trauma Therapy Podcast

FIONA DUNKLEY is a trauma therapist and counsellor who has helped people and communities affected by war, terrorism and sexual violence. Drawing on experiences described in her new book – Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers – in these podcasts she tells us about the importance of community and its values in helping people overcome trauma.

Mindfulness Exercise 6: Mountain Meditation

Meditation is the collective term for a number of techniques used to still the mind, relax the body and produce a state of inner harmony. It differs from sleep, hypnosis or other types of relaxation simply because your mind remains alert.

There are many ways to meditate. You can meditate while sitting, walking, or practising yoga, but it is easiest to learn by sitting comfortably in a quiet room for several minutes twice a day, every day. There are 2 basic steps: to focus on a single word or phrase (of your choice – perhaps “peace” or “one”, or a religious word) or simply to focus on your breath; and to ignore or disregard all other thoughts.

When we focus on a single word, thought or image, we produce a state of calm that increases mental alertness, while relaxing other body systems.

Meditating twice a day for 15-20 minutes has been shown to be the most effective. Make an effort to practice every day, even if it’s initially only for 5 minutes. You may find it’s easiest to meditate first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

One of our favourite meditations is “The Mountain Meditation” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It encourages us to seek inner stability and peace, even in the face unpredictable change and chaos. Here is an adaptation of Kabat-Zinn’s classic guided meditation, we hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

If you like this exercise then please get in touch with FD Consultants today to find out about their mindfulness and wellbeing courses.

Mindfulness Exercise 5:Healing Light Meditation

Healing Light meditation is a popular practice. You can use it almost anywhere to lift your mood. If you’ve got a few moments free throughout the day, I highly recommend learning this practice to fill some of those extra minutes with guided white light meditation.

Many people who meditate have had unusual encounters with healing light. They find the experience perplexing. There’s no logical source for this light; so where does it originate? Individuals experience this light in different ways. One meditator might see giant glowing white balls, while another one might see tiny comet-streaked white sparkles. Experiencing a light during meditation is common, but subjective. There are many benefits to following this healing light meditation, such as enhancing overall wellbeing, boosting self-esteem and feelings of connectedness and it can be used to help “clear” any painful emotions you may be experiencing.

If you like this exercise then please get in touch with FD Consultants today to find out about their mindfulness and wellbeing courses.

Mindfulness Exercise 4: Body Scan Meditation

When you’re feeling stressed, it’s common to “carry stress in your body” in the form of tense shoulders, a stomach “in knots,” through shallow breathing, or in other ways. When people carry stress in their bodies, they’re often not even aware of it! When we’re really stressed, we may be feeling physical discomfort but not connect it with our emotions. A body scan meditation is a practice that can be performed daily or even several times a day and can help you learn to identify what you are feeling and where you’re feeling it, and learn to release the stress in your body and mind.

The body scan meditation is effective in relieving stress not only because of the mind-clearing aspects present in all forms of meditation but because of the physical component as well. Research shows that there are physical and psychological benefits to relaxing the body and relieving tension. Relieving physical tension, for example, has been shown to lead to a decrease in psychological stress, even when no psychologically-based stress relief efforts are made. Tension relieved in the body can lead to lower stress levels and lower reactivity to future stress, which can, in turn, lead to less physical tension as a result of stress.

In this way, this meditation works to break the cycle of physical and psychological tension that can feed on itself. Because of this, the body scan meditation is a very useful and effective meditation that can help you to stay relaxed mentally and physically, and return to a relaxed state when you become too tense. You can try a body scan meditation right now by following this simple video exercise.

If you like this exercise then please get in touch with FD Consultants today to find out about their mindfulness and wellbeing courses.

Mindfulness Exercise 3: Compassionate Mindfulness

This is an exercise in feeling compassion towards yourself. Self compassion often doesn’t come naturally – it is a skill you need to learn, practice and consciously engage in. Research has shown that these techniques can help improve our emotional well-being, improve our ability to cope with life’s challenges, lower levels of anxiety and depression, promote healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and lead to more satisfying personal relationships.

Cultivating self-compassion in this way can fundamentally shift how we relate to ourselves. Instead of meeting our imperfections and challenges with self-blame and criticism, we can bring a kind and mindful attention to our experiences (thoughts, emotions, and sensations) and a sense of love and care to ourselves, right in the midst of difficult situations. With practice, we can strengthen this inner quality of presence, connectedness, and kindness to improve emotional well-being and build resilience.

If you like this exercise then please get in touch with FD Consultants today to find out about their mindfulness and wellbeing courses.

Mindfulness Exercise 2: Releasing Negative Energy

On a regular basis, we encounter a wide range of energies, both positive and negative, and since the negative energies we come in contact with have the power to drain, and make us feel tired and exhausted, it is very important to remove these energies.

Negative energy can be anger, anxiety, depression, resentment, jealousy, or any negative feeling and emotions that you have been holding on to. This guided meditation will help you remove any form of psychic attack or negative energies from your life and shield you from negativity.

Before you begin, remember to first, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for the next 15 minutes. Second, find a comfortable position to sit – it can be in a chair, crossed legged or on your knees, or lay down and when you’re ready, press play.

If you like this exercise then please get in touch with FD Consultants today to find out about their mindfulness and wellbeing courses.

Mindfulness Exercise Series 1: 4-Step Breathing

4-Step breathing (also called square, tactical or Box breathing) is a simple and highly effective technique that you can practice for a few minutes anytime you need to boost your creativity or concentration, break free from scattered thinking, or interrupt an intense “fight or flight” response and return to a state of healing and peace. It is also an effective breath to use at the beginning of your mindfulness practice.

This centuries old breathing technique for meditation has re-surfaced in the past few years and is being used by athletes, performers, doctors, and even navy seals, as their most effective strategy for quickly entering a calm, centered state of mind and body; especially when they are in an intense situation where they need to be fully present and directly connected to their best self/highest self. Many people report that when breathing is used as part of their meditation it has a dramatic, positive impact on their inner and outer wellbeing.

If you like this exercise then please get in touch with FD Consultants today to find out about their mindfulness and wellbeing courses.

Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers:
A Roadmap of Trauma and Critical Incident Care

Get your copy of Fiona’s book, Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers. It will appeal to all those working in the field of humanitarian aid, counsellors and psychotherapists, emergency first responders, as well as those who are looking to support themselves after surviving trauma.

Molly and the Two Pigeons

Molly and the Two Pigeons is a short story for upper primary and lower secondary school children to teach them about Coronavirus in a fun and light-hearted way, and records a significant period of time in history. It could also be used as a teaching tool for parents or teachers.

A loveable puppy called Molly forms a friendship with two racing pigeons, Destiny and Grace, who live in a wooden hut in the adjacent garden. Grace is kind-hearted and takes a liking to Molly, Destiny is arrogant and is known as the fastest pigeon in the South, proven by his collection of medals. Their circle of friends expands to include Marv the wise Mandarin Duck, Flash Gordon the Goose, and Merlin the Mosquito.

This strange group of friends become united through one cause, to find a cure for the Coronavirus and help the people. Their adventures take them far and wide. They travel to China and learn about the origins of Coronavirus. They explore the Yangtze River, where they learn about the legend of the mountain peaks. They head to South Korea, where they learn about “Track and Trace” to prevent the spread of the virus. They also visit Oxford, England, where they explore how a vaccine is made. Their trip to Oxford coincides with a visit from Prince William, who Molly takes a great liking to and manages to get a royal stroke from.

Proceeds will be gifted to a charity to support the NHS and all those needing additional support from the impact of Coronavirus.

Download the first chapter of the audiobook for free – click here