The trauma experienced by all during COVID-19 pandemic has been extreme, most especially for those working on the frontline. Now, Help for Heroes, who have years of experience working with traumatised veterans and their families are opening up their wealth of knowledge and advice to those greatest affected by the pandemic.
The similarities between those serving in the military and those working in the public sector during the pandemic, namely in the NHS and carers is encapsulated by the very words we use to describe them “frontline workers”.
Frontline workers have been exposed to some of the most upsetting examples of distress, human suffering, and trauma their profession could expect over the past year. From overwhelmed COVID wards to isolated and lonely care home residents, the ceaseless levels of exhaustion and stress are bound to have a long-lasting effect.
The need for a trauma focused response to the experiences frontline workers have had during the pandemic has encouraged Help for Heroes to step in. They want to raise awareness for how they can offer this kind of advice, after partaking in invaluable work with traumatised veterans.
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‘Lessons from the Battlefield’ is a brilliant resource of tips and tools that Help for Heroes’ recovery team delivers to veterans and also very importantly, their loved ones, who have experienced traumatic events or worked in high-stress environments.
The support package focuses on three sections for those who have been directly traumatised by working on the front lines of the pandemic: body, emotion and mind. Help for Heroes then have a whole subsection dedicated to the support of loved ones, families, friends etc. who have in fact been indirectly traumatised by the pandemic.
These tools can teach people how to look after themselves, whether they are frontline workers or a family member/loved one of a frontline worker, how to recognise signs they/a loved one is struggling and even more importantly how they can seek help and provide support through any treatment.
Help for Heroes acknowledge the undeniable similarities of experiencing trauma and stress related disorders, compassion fatigue and burnout whilst working on the front line of the pandemic to working in highly stressful warzones or military environments.
This comparison is also incredibly important in recognising how families and loved ones can also be impacted, Help for Heroes believes.
Sarah Jones, head of Psychological Wellbeing at Help for Heroes said “We understand what NHS staff and their families are going through; the pandemic has drawn out in the same way that conflicts are, keeping resilient is hard and the likelihood of mental health issues grows”
Jones continued, “Mental health issues don’t only impact on the person going through trauma but on their families too. From our work with wounded veterans, we know the family is a vital part of an individual’s support network and can be a driving force in encouraging them to access professional help. We realise our expertise could help those who need it most right now”
Alongside this they made mention of the 5,000 UK Armed Forces personnel that are currently deployed to support the COVID-19 response across the country. Help for Heroes wants to build on this effort by offering its expertise, in the hopes it can enhance a collective sense of effort and togetherness that the military share with frontline workers.
‘Lessons from the Battlefield’ was designed for and co-created with veterans and their families. It is therefore extremely relevant to NHS staff, carers and their loved ones who are supporting them through mental health issues such as anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Speaking on the understanding and learning that ‘Lessons from the Battlefield’ can provide, Vikki McAuley, the daughter of an RAF Veteran and a Peer Support for other veteran families at Help for Heroes said “You can’t force somebody to be well. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I can’t fix my Dad and that I couldn’t help him until he was ready.”
McAuley commented on the importance of looking after yourself, as a loved one saying “LiKe they say on planes, ‘Put your own oxygen mask on first.’ By keeping some of your focus on the things you can control, like your own self-care habits, you’ll be in a more positive frame of mind to support your loved one.”
For all information on Help for Heroes ‘Lessons from the Battlefield’ please visit their site and resources here.
For information on how the NHS is offering support for traumatised workers you can find out about their 40 dedicate support hubs here.