Lydia Hartland-Rowe introduces the Wellbeing Quiz, explaining why we have created this new resource, what we hope it will do and how we are thinking about the current situation. You can access the quiz on the Together in Mind website home page and we hope you find it interesting.
Hello, my name is Lydia Hartland-Rowe. And I just want to say a bit about the quiz that we’re adding to the website today to explain what we hope it will do and how we’re thinking about it.
The aim of this website, part of a project across North Central and Northeast London to provide resources for staff support in the context of the pandemic, has always been to respond to what we’re hearing about how people are and what they feel they need in the NHS and social care sectors. Some of that was a bit easier earlier on in the unfolding of what COVID-19 has brought us when such stark events were taking place and it was, on the whole, not difficult for people to know what was having an impact on them, what might help and where the strain and stress were located.
For some people, of course, those who are working face to face with people who are ill and dying of the coronavirus, and those working with people whose lives have been changed by contact with the virus may still be working in very similar ways to the ways they have been since March or April and that’s even while in London anyway, the official guidance since lockdown has changed and keeps changing. But for many of us as we get used to new ways of working and relating to each other, it can seem as if the most acute times are over and that we ought to be able to get on as we were before without being slowed down or affected too much by the events of the past few months.
But what we know from those with expertise in the field is that the most important time to be alert and ready to notice and think about the impact of having been exposed to potentially traumatising events is after they’re over. And this is of course quite complicated with COVID-19 for a number of reasons; one quite simply is that trauma is felt differently by different people for different reasons. The same event can be experienced by one person as deeply unsettling, shaking their core in a way that can feel profound and hard to recover from and by another, as something undeniably difficult but recoverable from.
Sometimes within a team of people, these different responses will also reflect something about the team as a whole. So one person’s vulnerability is important because it recognises the vulnerability within the team, and someone else’s resilience shows that this is also part of what the team has to offer, and both are important. We don’t always know what it is in our experience and in our own individual and personal way of processing our experiences from very early in life that will make the difference between being at any moment, someone who remains fairly steady in the face of events while noticing their severity and someone who feels more fundamentally shaken up. And the cue that causes the shake up can be something very particular and not apparently obvious, either to the person that happens to or to colleagues and friends.
Well into that highly personal situation that is the different ways that each of us responds to the same events that we live through comes the other really complicated ingredient that with COVID-19 we just don’t know what’s coming next. We know more than we did six months ago but there’s still so much uncertainty, not just in relation to the behaviour of the virus itself, but in terms of its impact on global society and on family life all at once.
That’s the context. And it means that this is a time when it’s really important to be keeping a thoughtful eye on how we are and on how those around us seem to be managing.
In the early stages of the pandemic, trauma experts talked about the importance in the immediate aftermath following a traumatic event of watchful waiting. Well, clearly, we’re not quite in that place anymore now that COVID-19 and its impacts has been with us for some time. But just because we’re no longer at that acute point, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t still important in ordinary ways to be aware of how people are and alert to what different experiences people are having on an emotional level. So being ready to support and enjoy the resilience and capacity of those who are feeling well and healthy, while at the same time being open to noticing where people may be struggling and what the signs might be.
We also know from trauma experts that there are some typical ways in which responses to trauma show themselves in really ordinary ways that don’t necessarily become problematic, but might be worth recognising and being aware of.
So this quiz is aimed at giving you a chance to pause and get a sense, broadly, about where your current ways of responding to what’s happening now might show themselves. It’s not a diagnostic test, but just a chance to stop and notice how you’re managing, what direction your responses to experiences seem to take you in, and where you might turn for resources if you were to feel that would be helpful.
We worked with our trauma lead here at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust to develop the quiz and some broad profiles describing typical ways that we might be responding to things at the moment. We’ve added the Wellbeing Quiz Profiles to the podcasts and resources they align with using a hashtag and the profile title in a similar way to how hashtags are used on Twitter. This will enable you to search for podcasts and resources that align with the profiles that are produced once you’ve completed the quiz.
We’re also asking you if you want to let us know what role you’re in and where you work, so that this anonymous information can help us to understand more about patterns of response, and need for staff support in our different organisations. I hope that you find the quiz of interest and of use and as always, we welcome feedback and suggestions.