FNHMA virtual town hall discusses Covid fatigue and other mental health issues

·3 min read

(ANNews) - The First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA) Weekly Virtual Town Hall is a podcast that features speakers from different organizations who provide credible and reliable information, resources, and updates about what their organizations are doing to combat COVID-19.

Dr. Brenda Restoule, Chief Executive Officer of the First Peoples’ Wellness Circle, appeared on the Jan. 14, podcast and began her talk by saying, “Today I thought I would spend some time talking about the fact that we have been in this pandemic for ten months.”

She mentioned how she recently had conversations “about just how much our workforce and our leaders are doing and how tired and exhausting it’s become. Ten months of this – we are concerned about the wellness of our workforce.”

As for tiredness and fatigue, Dr. Restoule said, “We know that our workforce has been working so hard. Our leaders have been working so hard. They are doing more, doing it differently, sometimes they’re doing different things than they did before, or they’re just having to do their work in different ways – whether that’s virtually, at a distance.”

“And they are forever being asked to think about how to do it differently. And it’s always changing!”

“Burnout is what we consider to be a reaction to a prolonged and chronic job stress… it’s characterized by things like exhaustion; starting to maybe hate your job or dread going to work cause there’s so much to do and not enough time; and feeling like you’re not capable or not satisfied with your work. Burnout is a really big thing.”

She also mentioned how that fatigue and burnout is not only happening at work, as most people are now working from home. “This is happening to us in our homes. We’re worried about our families, about our parents and other homes, our community members and other friends. So it can also be associated with things in our life.”

She then went on to speak about a few different kinds of fatigue that are common. Such as compassion fatigue, which is essentially, “the cost of caring;” pandemic fatigue: which is when people are “less likely to want to follow” restrictions; and COVID fatigue, “the uncertainty and chaos of COVID has really forced us to make additional choices about our lifestyle, our safety in very uncertain times. With more impactful consequences if we don’t make the right decisions.”

Some signs of fatigue are restlessness, irritability, lack of motivation, difficulty with concentration, withdrawing from socializing with others, and physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach pains.

Here are some of Dr. Restoule’s tips for fatigue:

Take care of yourself. Practice Mindfulness and meditation. Choose activities that make it easy to follow the public health measures, including creating habits such as applying hand sanitizer or grabbing a mask and appreciating these habits.

Focus on things that you can do differently. “Maybe it’s about eating a little bit healthier or getting outside for a walk.” Reach out for support and find ways to make social connections.

Take notice of whether you’re experiencing fatigue.

Most importantly, practice self-compassion. “It’s okay if you slip up once in a while and you can’t make a decision. These are hard times… Take a COVID break. Turn things off, don’t listen for a little bit, and recognize that you can only do so much.”

“I’m going to end by saying: have resiliency. We have teachings about being interconnected like trees and teachings about hibernation from the bear. We are much like the trees - our roots our interconnected to each other, we hold each other up, we protect each other.”

Tune in to the FNHMA Town Hall Sessions every Thursday at 1 pm EST on Alberta Native News Facebook page or at ihtoday.ca.

Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Native News.

Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News