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Stress First Aid

Health care employees work under considerable stress, especially now. The executive division of the National Center for PTSD at the White River Junction, Vermont Veterans Administration Medical Center, an affiliate of Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, has developed a program called Stress First Aid that has been shown to improve recovery from stress reactions.

SFA’s evidence-based peer support and self-care intervention is now being modified for health care institutions throughout the country. We are excited to provide D-HH employees a Stress First Aid (SFA) two-part video series (each approximately 8-10 minutes long) that introduces the SFA model.

Stress First Aid: Video 1

Presenters: Mary K. Jankowski, Ph.D., Director of Psychology Services, Department of Psychiatry and Sivan Rotenberg, Ph.D., Director of Embedded Services, Department of Psychiatry

Stress First Aid: Video 2

Presenters: Sivan Rotenberg, Ph.D., Director of Embedded Services, Department of Psychiatry

The SFA model normalizes reactions to stress and destigmatizes reaching out for support. It shows how stress responses lie along a continuum of severity and how stress injuries (e.g., moral injury, loss, or chronic stress) may move a person along the continuum.

SFA introduces behaviors and actions individuals can engage in to improve their well-being based on self-assessment of their current state of stress. These behaviors are based on research that shows that people tend to do better when they feel safe, are able to calm themselves, feel connected to others, believe they can get through their challenges, and have a sense of hope.

The goal is to decrease stigma around stress and promote a culture of well-being while providing a common language that can be used when discussing stress and stress reactions. Additionally, the SFA videos aim to increase resilience among employees, helping them develop strategies that can promote longevity on the job, including:

  • Decreased negative stress reactions
  • Increased sense of self-efficacy in coping with stress
  • Increased sense of being cared for by leadership
  • Increased satisfaction with leadership
  • Increased sense of wellness

Additional Stress First Aid resources

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health will soon offer a training webinar for leaders on how to use the SFA model with their teams. Employees are also encouraged to reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (Dartmouth-Hitchcock) and/or Peer Support Program at their member site if they feel they need additional support.

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