Black Dog Institute’s federally funded support service for health professionals, known as The Essential Network (TEN), is going strong and growing. In recent times, along with the previously available information and support, telepsychology has been added to the services provided by TEN. But most excitingly, in my view, an excellent set of modules aimed at helping health professionals prevent and manage burnout in themselves and their colleagues has also been added to the site.
If you haven’t heard of it before, you might like to know that TEN began as part of the Australian Government’s response to the pandemic. Its advent acknowledged that many health professionals would experience increased stress during COVID-19 and beyond. Rural practitioners, who were already overloaded, would not be exempt from the additional stress – so online delivery of support seemed especially important.
Black Dog Institute was invited to tender for federal funding to establish the online service that became TEN. It was successful with a package that included mental health information as well as online support and telehealth services, much of which was to be provided free of charge and anonymously.
The TEN site, which is part of the Black Dog Institute website, offers a collection of helpful mental health resources, a link to an online diagnostic clinic and useful tips for managing stress, depression and other mental health conditions. It offers advice on finding an appropriate mental health professional for yourself and links to the Hand-n-Hand Peer support network, a preclinical service that will link you to an individual or a group of peers for support. It also provides a pathway to speak to one of the clinicians at the Black Dog Institute itself.
The thing I’m most excited about, and highly recommend, is the Navigating Burnout program. Whether you feel you are close to burning out yourself (and heaven knows you are not alone!), you think one of your colleagues is at risk or you want to prevent burnout in your practice, you will benefit from the information contained in the modules.
The course is divided into nine short sections so you can easily squeeze them into your day. Some sections take as little as 10 minutes to complete. They aim to help you understand what burnout is and develop some skills to manage your work so that it doesn’t overwhelm you (such as setting and communicating your limits and managing unrealistic expectations – both your own and those of others). There is also a section on managing the workplace to make it burnout-proof for everyone.
The Navigating Burnout modules are evidence-based and devised by Black Dog Institute’s own academics and clinicians. They are easy to read and to fit into your day. Please take a look. We need to support our workforce so they will all still be there for us in the future. And we all need to look after ourselves!