Workforce support and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak

This webpage gives you advice and guidance to help you look after your own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of others.


This resource has been adapted from Psychosocial support and wellbeing: psychosocial responses to COVID-19. With thanks to NHS Education for Scotland.

The current COVID-19 pandemic will affect us all in different ways: physically, emotionally, socially. Social service workers will experience varying levels of stress and distress at points. This is normal and predictable.

This guide aims to help support you to look after:

  • yourself
  • others for whom you provide support and care
  • colleagues.

We know that finding time to keep up with advice and information coming from many different sources can become an additional pressure.

This guide:

  • highlights principles and strategies which are based on good, reliable science and evidence that can help you manage the ongoing stress as effectively as possible
  • summarises the best available knowledge in this area at the current time with associated relevant links should you wish more information
  • will be updated and added to.

Finally, as much as this is a stressful time, we also know that people faced with chronic stress and adversity will often show enormous fortitude and resilience in the face of immense pressure. It is important to hold this in mind as best we can.

Looking after yourself

Supporting resilience and wellbeing in social service workers.

Illustration showing how multiple unknowns, threat, unpredictability and complexity contributes to stress for healthcare and social service workers during COVID-19

Many social service workers are likely to feel stressed and under enormous pressure during this outbreak – this is perfectly natural and indeed is a reaction to a very abnormal set of circumstances.

Here are some graphics to illustrate this.

You may want to download (PDF) and print them to discuss with your colleagues and put up in your place of work.

Illustration of set of scales showing problem focused coping like preparation balanced with emotion focused coping like managing unhelpful thoughts
Illustration about finding your way along four contininuums, with dials showing balanced levels of care, work, activity and connections
Illustration of a resilient person and group, explaining that stress and crises can challenge us but they don't necessarily damage us

Select 'See more' for links to more information and some recommended resources.

Looking after individuals

Providing support to people you care for and the public, using Psychological First Aid.

seven key components of psychological first aid depicted in cycle: care, protect, comfort, support, provide, connect and educate

Whatever your role is in social services, international research supports the use of staff implementing the principles of ‘Psychological First Aid’ to improve the longer-term wellbeing outcomes and effective recovery of the public when they experience any sort of crisis, such as the ongoing pandemic.

Select 'See more' to learn about Psychological First Aid.

There are also links to more information and some recommended resources.

What is Psychological First Aid?

Essentially, Psychological First Aid involves offering humane, supportive and practical help; paying attention to the factors that seem to be most helpful to people’s long-term recovery (according to various studies and the consensus of many crisis helpers).

These include:

  • facilitating the conditions for people to feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful
  • helping to ensure access to social, physical and emotional support
  • helping people feel able to help themselves, as individuals and communities.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) have developed a short set of slides (download PDF) to help you learn about the seven key components of Psychological First Aid. There is also a section focused on taking care of yourself as someone who is providing care in this stressful situation.



Looking after colleagues

Responding to distress in social service workers: advice for managers and organisations supporting social service workers.

The principles of Psychological First Aid described above are equally applicable to support staff. You may want to download the educational slides (PDF) to use with your team. Section three focuses on practical help for people who are caring for others at this stressful time.

NES have also developed a range of resources to help the workforce understand traumatic events and the different ways people can be affected by them.

This video helps workers develop knowledge and skills at the Trauma Informed level of practice.