Teresa Mulvena, Lead Counsellor, Staff Support

What does your role normally involve?

Usually my job is leading the team of staff support counsellors. Our job is supporting staff to deal with work stress and any other issues from outside work. For instance depression, anxiety, bereavement or relationship stresses.

We also run the mediation service, and we offer groups reflective practice, debriefs and mindfulness.  We help people when they are struggling and we also encourage staff who are well to develop self-care strategies.  It’s a real privilege to work with St George’s staff and I’ve been here for 11 years.

What role are you playing in the organisation’s response to Covid-19?

My team are working alongside the Covid-19 staff support working group to provide wellbeing to support staff in a number of ways.  My team are primarily responsible for the one to one individual support – which is completely confidential.

We have extended our hours to 9pm each day as we are aware it may not be as easy for staff to get in contact during their working day. I have an amazing team in staff support who go the extra mile, and feel passionately about the welfare of hospital staff.

What sort of emotions are staff experiencing at the moment?

Staff have a range of emotions and it’s possible to have quite contradictory feelings at the same time: some feel very grateful for the amazing support shown by the local community, and are really pulling together to do their best.

And of course we are all coping with uncertainty, and psychologically this is one of the hardest things to manage.  We all like to know where we are and at the moment we can’t.  My top tip is to take each day at a time and try not to get too far ahead with all the “what ifs” – i.e. anxieties about the future. This is much easier said than done.

Have you been really surprised/impressed by anything?

I’m really impressed by the offers of support that have come in, and I’m impressed by all our staff to be honest.

The staff in the clinical areas are giving their all, but there are all the unseen heroes such as the support staff: deliverers, cleaners, administrators and managers – everyone is important in this fight, and peoples’ commitment to enable the Trust to deliver care is really moving. One group of staff not always seen are the occupational health staff who are a small team who have been working seven days a week to support staff.

What steps can staff take to look after their own well-being?

Talking to someone they trust – making sure that they offload, and don’t take the position of always being the listener!
Plan something rejuvenating to look forward to on your time off
Try not to get too anxious about the future.

This won’t be forever, but we can’t predict how long for and we can’t control anything more than what we can do today.

My biggest message though is that it is a strength not a weakness to seek help if you are beginning to feel overwhelmed. Everyone has limitations. Make contact with us if you notice your sleep is becoming poor, you have no energy, you feel more irritable than usual, or are getting more tearful or upset: staffsupport@stgeorges.nhs.uk /02087253368.