Gather around children, Uncle Paul has a story to tell…
No! Don’t run away! It’ll be quick, I promise!
Back in the late 1990s I was working as a Nurse Educator in Community Health – it was good to get back in touch with general nursing after a few years in mental health. One of the things that popped-up at the time was that some staff (both clinical and non-clinical) were getting pretty stressed-out at work, usually because of work-related stuff. My boss at the time was keen to tap-into my background in mental health to see if it was something we could address as an organisation.
Some of the nurses, indigenous health workers, admin officers and cleaners I chatted to at the time made it clear that they didn’t want to show their vulnerabilities to clients, colleagues or management for fear of being thought of as weak or unable to cope. Staff asked for information and support that could be accessed discretely, without it being necessary to disclose anything to anyone at work.
One nurse put it succinctly: “This place is bloody stressful. There’s no avoiding it. We know we’ll cop stress, we just don’t know what to do about it; about what comes next.”
That’s how the staff resource, That Was Bloody Stressful! What’s Next? was born. Since 1998 it has been on the workplace intranet. We told people how to find it, “Just search for ‘bloody stressful’ on QHEPS”, and asked that they pass the tip on to workmates. It has sometimes been used with general hospital patients too – feedback is that some patients find it validating to know that staff can relate, in part at least, to their experience of having a stress reaction after a traumatic event.
Over recent years information about the organisation’s employee assistance program has become much more visible and easy to access on the intranet; so much so that a dinky, amateurish, screen-bean & comic-sans laden little PDF with 10-year-old references probably isn’t really necessary anymore. Nevertheless, we made the decision a couple of months ago to keep it available because each month a dozen people or more search the organisation’s intranet using these key words: bloody stressful.
Here is what they find: BloodyStressful
Perhaps you’re wondering why, in 2013, I have decided to liberate this shabby-looking resource from the intranet to share with the internet. Well, nurses experiencing secondary traumatisation popped up as a topic in a Twitterchat last month, in a Google+ community a week ago, and again on Twitter this morning.
Nurses do emotional labour. Maybe we should pool our thoughts and resources about how best to manage the effects of this.
Paul McNamara, 4th January 2013
Short URL: meta4RN.com/bloody
Update: 7th April 2017
So as to include the recently launched Nurse & Midwife Support info, I’ve updated the “That Was Bloody Stressful! What’s Next?” PDF.
Access the 2017 version here: BloodyStressful2017
As an added bonus, the headline font has now been changed away from Comic Sans.