ACP-UK Rapid Response: Guidance for Clinical Psychologists in Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 at Work
Dorothy Frizelle, Director of Membership & Member Services
The following information is provided to help Clinical Psychologists prepare for and manage the threat of COVID-19 in their work and workplaces. As clinicians we have knowledge and skills that can help support the system now and also in the longer-term when the impact of a global pandemic on our collective psychological well-being may be realised. However, we also have to be considered and mindful in counterbalancing our professional responsibilities and feelings of moral obligation to contribute to the collective effort, with our own safety and physical and psychological well-being.
It is not the intention of this brief to prescribe how colleagues should or should not behave; we work across such diverse populations, systems and with so many communities of people that it would not make sense to do so. Rather, this brief is aimed at supporting colleagues in managing the balance (and the inevitable tensions) that will arise from wanting to protect the vulnerable, support the system and reduce risk Vs. worries and concerns related to a period of high work demand and change to normal activity both at work and at home.
We have developed this brief within the overall frame of ‘collective psychosocial resilience’ described by Drury et al, 2019 in their work related to public emergencies. Being aware of how to mitigate against threat to self as well as others, and counter-balancing this with our professional and moral obligation to ‘make a difference,’ may help Clinical Psychologists not only maintain their own resilience but also contribute to the capacity of colleagues and the people and communities we serve to remain resilient during uncertain and challenging times.
The brief is divided in to three main sections under the over-arching theme of collective psychosocial resilience. These are: responsibility to others, responsibility to self and managing professional (moral) obligations. The ideas and suggestions are not an exhaustive list and indeed we would encourage you to share other ideas across our community by writing a post for the ACP-UK website and sending it to [email protected] or interacting via any of our social media outlets (our Twitter handle is @UK_ACP and you can find us on Facebook and Instagram).
COLLECTIVE PSYCHOSOCIAL RESILIENCE
|Responsibility to Others||Responsibility to Self||Professional (and Moral) Obligation|
|Seek advice from Infection Prevention colleagues on how to promote hygiene and reduce risk of infection within your unique work space||Are you clear on how you self-care?
||Are you personally and professionally clear on what you are prepared to do/not do in the event of escalating infection severity?
|Create a physically safe space at work:
||Utilise evidence-based models to manage own anxiety/perceived threat; for example
||Are you clear on what is required and expected from you by your organisation?
|Create a psychologically safe space at work:
||Utilise mindfulness and/or other competencies to help manage emotions
||As Clinical Psychologists we know that language matters and can feed in to stigma around a threat
|Develop a service ‘action plan’:
||What support can and do you access? How can you ensure this is available for you over the coming weeks? What steps will you take to ensure you ask for, access and receive good social and relational support?
See a recent article in the Lancet by Brookes and colleagues (2020) on the psychological impact of quarantine
Access ACP-UK website and other social media forum to make contact with colleagues
|Review literature and evidence-base related to impact of threat on psychosocial wellbeing; more specific ‘threats’ from COVID-19 include:
|Review if you/your service is able to provide support to frontline colleagues:
||How do you cope? What do you need to support you to optimise your coping style and strategy?
||Remembering to work in alignment with group norms and to be culturally and religiously sensitive|
Drury, J., Carter, H., Cocking, C., Ntontis, E., Tekin Guven, S., & Amlôt, R. (2019). Facilitating collective psychosocial resilience in the public in emergencies: Twelve recommendations based on the social identity approach. Frontiers in Public Health, 7 (141). Access online
Brooks , S.K., Webster, R.K., Smith, L.E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., Rubin, G.J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet Online rapid review, 395 (10227), pp. 912-920. Access online
World Health Organisation: Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak. Access online