Felipe is a support worker who works with vulnerable teenagers experiencing severe and enduring difficulties with mental health. He has three teenage children himself and has started to find it difficult to bear witness to the stories of trauma he hears from the young people he works with everyday. He has started to experience nightmares and intrusive thoughts, as well as flashbacks of the traumas he has heard during the day. Felipe experienced abuse when he was young, and he has started to remember parts of his own trauma. He has a supportive family and struggles with feelings of guilt and self-criticism, telling himself he ‘should be able to cope’ and that he shouldn’t be struggling because he has a good life. Staff shortages and a new manager means that Felipe has been under more stress at work and has had less time to look after himself in between appointments as he has an increased workload and less time for supervision.
Felipe approached Here for You after developing panic attacks before work. He has never had issues with panic before and has become worried about what this means. He was provided with psychological information and a space to explore the concept of vicarious trauma were provided as well as going through a reliable clinical questionnaire to help assess and understand his symptoms.
Counselling and signposting to IAPT were discussed as Felipe had never had a space to explore his own trauma history and felt he needed skills to manage the symptoms he was now experiencing. Breathing techniques and calming skills were introduced, as well as compassion focused approaches to challenge the internal critic he had. He had a conversation with his manager to discuss a consistent and regular space for supervision. His manager highlighted that other team members were also struggling at times. The team came together to think about a peer support system to offer the opportunity to support one another as they navigated staff shortages and increased stress. They also introduced lunch breaks outside in a nearby park to promote connection with new team members and to be in nature.