As a dayhome provider, taking care of our mental health is equally as important as taking care of our physical health. If we go too long without stopping to recognize where we might be struggling, we can be putting ourselves and the child we care for at risk.
In this weeks blog, we’ll go over some tell tale signs that you might be experiencing a mental health challenge and how to find resources and support to help you navigate out of it.
*This blog post talks about mental health and crisis situations that may be triggering to some readers*
MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES MADE MORE PROMINENT BY THE PANDEMIC
After 2 long years, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be nearing its end and Alberta is moving towards a new post-pandemic normal. But how has your mental health faired through it all?
Many dayhome providers have experienced heightened mental health challenges due to the pandemic and the added expectations and pressures that have come with operating a childcare program during a global health crisis.
That is why today we want to spend some time talking about mental health and ensuring that as providers we all have the tools and resources available to us when we find ourselves needing that extra support.
Signs that you COULD BE EXPERIENCING A MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE
How do we know when we are struggling with our mental health? What signs and symptoms might be present? If you are feeling any of the signs and symptoms below, there is a possibility that you may be experiencing a mental health challenge and it is time to reach out for extra support.
RECOGNIZING OUR triggers TO HELP COMBAT MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES
Often times a mental health challenge is something that happens without our control and there is little we can do to stop it. Other times there are certain triggers or situations that can contribute negatively to our mental health and well-being and over time can lead to a mental health challenge. Understanding these triggers is a critical part of taking care of ourselves before things get out of control.
Think back to a time that you have felt one of the above signs and see if any of the following triggers or situations came before it.
PHYSICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL TRIGGERS
If you are or have repeatedly experienced some of the above physical, environmental, and situational triggers above – it is possible that you already have or will experience burnout at some point in your dayhome career. Burnout can occur when we pile on too many triggers and not enough support or resources to effectively manage them.
Creating an action plan
Having an action plan in place that we can follow when we find we have been experiencing increased triggers can help us stay on top of our mental health and well-being. Here are some steps to follow to create your own personal action plan.
When you begin to recognize a decline in your mental health – begin at Step 1 of your action plan. If you don’t find relief from that step, move on to the next until you feel you are no longer at risk.
Depending on the severity of what you are feeling, some of the beginning steps should be skipped completely and you should take immediate steps to seek help and support from professionals.
Step 1 - Focus on Self Care
Self-care looks different for everyone. What someone considers self-care for themselves could be a trigger for someone else. Take some time to think about what self-care looks like for you and write some ideas down. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Step 2 - Share your struggles
Talk about what you’re experiencing with a trusted personal acquaintance (spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc.). By having conversations about how we are struggling a weight can often lift off our shoulders when we realize we are not alone. Try reaching out to the dayhome community within our Facebook Group Alberta’s Dayhome Support Network (you can even post anonymously).
Step 3 - Talk to a therapist
If you have worked through steps 1 and 2 and have not found relief it might be time to talk with a professional counsellor, or therapist to learn some coping strategies.
Step 4 - Seek professional help
Step 5 - Access 24/7 support
If you aren’t able to access a crisis centre and you are experiencing suicidal or self-harming thoughts, please reach out to someone.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
The Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 is available 24/7.
Step 6 - Call 911
If you have exhausted all options for resources and support and you are still experiencing a mental health crisis, call 911.
KNOWING WHEN TO TAKE A BREAK
Experiencing a mental health challenge is nothing to be ashamed of and no provider should have to experience these things alone. It’s also important to know that it does not make you a bad provider. However, it is important to understand that sometimes we might need to take a break to focus on getting healthy so that we can ensure that we and the children we care for stay safe.
You may feel like you are letting your dayhome families down if you need to step away from dayhome for a time to manage your self-care and mental health but having an honest conversation with your dayhome families can help them understand where you are coming from.
At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you and keeping the children you care for safe. Your mental health is more important than disappointing others.
MENTAL HEALTH ACTION PLAN
Reflect and respond to today’s blog post by grabbing our Mental Health Action Plan Printable to help you create your Mental Health Action Plan.
Determine your triggers, define your signs, strategize ways to cope and research your local crisis resources.
You can keep this action plan in your dayhome binder so that it’s on hand if you need it.
CAREGIVER BURNOUT GUIDEBOOK
Learn more about caregiver burnout and how to beat it inside our CAREGIVER BURNOUT GUIDEBOOK.
This guidebook was developed from an informative session we hosted with the Burnout Queen – Janice Wehran.