It is no secret that health care workers are facing unprecedented pressure during the response to COVID-19. Doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, and so many others are navigating success and loss together. At the same time, everyone has a personal journey, where fear and anxiety can arise at any turn. As the outpouring of gratitude honors health care workers’ efforts, there is also a greater need to support the health and wellbeing of each and every person on the frontlines.
The University of Colorado Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation is addressing this need with COVID-19 Narratives, an expressive writing program designed to support health care providers and staff who are experiencing distress from the COVID-19 pandemic response. The program is a modified Written Exposure Therapy, which is an evidence-based intervention.
COVID-19 Narratives is a series of five online writing sessions offered at no cost to all University of Colorado staff. Participants respond to writing prompts that are designed to allow expression of their thoughts and feelings about distressing experiences. Between sessions, participants receive feedback from a Licensed Mental Health Professional, such as a clinical social worker or a psychologist. There is one session per week over five weeks. Each session takes about 20 to 30 minutes and can be done any time during the week, to accommodate busy schedules. It is important to note that the program is confidential, and the identities of the participant and the mental health professional will not be known to each other. All writing takes place online, using the secure REDCap platform.
Each writing prompt is specific to the COVID-19 health care response, with topics such as acute care settings, reduced PPE, and work-life impact. Feedback is meant to encourage expression.
Writing about stressful experiences is a proven way to deal with traumatic events and alleviate stress. Sometimes taking time for self-care is just as important as caring for others, and this program is one way to do just that.Start writing your COVID-19 Narratives