As a behavioral health provider, you may be gearing up for an increased demand for your services in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The stress of job loss, health anxiety, and depression from social distancing are all expected to take a mental health toll on the U.S. population.
At the same time, this increased demand will create stress and other health risks for providers and staff. Here is how behavioral health and addiction treatment providers can make sure they are taking care of themselves to stay at their best and prevent burnout.
Recognize the signs of provider stress and burnout
When promoting self-care and preventing burnout, it’s important to know what to avoid. Here are some signs and symptoms of burnout and overwork to look out for:
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and more frequent colds due to reduced immunity
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased mistakes at work
- Feeling impatient, irritable, or angry
- Reduced empathy
- Intrusive imagery or dissociation
- Impaired decision-making
- Emotional hypersensitivity
- Physical or emotional exhaustion
- Strained relationships
- Symptoms of depression, including feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of suicide
Preventing burnout and promoting self-care
Practicing self-care is as important for behavioral health clinicians and their staff as it is for their clients. While not everyone responds to the same self-care techniques, here are a few techniques:
Maintain appropriate home/work boundaries. This may mean you turn off your phone after a certain time of day, or do not answer work emails inside your home. If you are working from home during the pandemic, limit yourself to specific work hours. Boundaries between you and your clients are also critical. Determine your boundaries early on, and stay firm. Be compassionate without taking on your clients’ pain or solving problems for them.
Maintain social support. Invest in strong relationships, both outside of work and with your colleagues. Set aside time to keep up with friends and family members, especially those in your own household. See a therapist or mentor of your own to help cope with emotional stress.
Take some time off work. Taking time off may seem unrealistic, but this does not have to involve a two-week vacation. Other possibilities include taking an extra-long lunch break, keeping work hours flexible, or leaving work early. Set aside time for leisure activities.
As a clinician, you may not be able to control all the numerous risk factors that can contribute to stress and burnout. For example, early career status, personal history of trauma, and high empathy can increase the risk of burnout, but are difficult to control.
One thing that clinicians and behavioral health leaders can do is ensure that they and their staff have all the tools and training they need to do their jobs with excellence. This helps leaders delegate appropriately and keeps individuals from taking on too much.
In periods of high demand and high stress, the right clinical tools are vital in helping to promote the well-being of providers, staff, and clients. This includes an EHR system that offers easy implementation, reduced clicks, and thorough technical support. BestNotes EHR solutions have been created with clinicians in mind to help you do what you do best. Contact us to learn more.