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Supporting the Wellbeing of Our Essential Workforce During COVID-19

CoreCivic | 7/9/20 8:00 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating new challenges for everyone — but it can be especially trying for our nation's essential workers.

To help our front line team members during this challenging time, CoreCivic activated our Critical Incident Stress Management or CISM Team. The CISM Team is made up of CoreCivic employees like chaplains, mental health professionals and counselors who offer confidential emo­tional support to those impacted by the pandemic.

"Just as our chaplains and mental health providers are supporting inmates and residents in our care, our employees may need extra support as well," said Duke Terrell, senior director of Mental Health at CoreCivic and co-leader of CISM. "The CISM Team offers assistance to any team member in need of emotional support amid COVID-19 and other stressors such as natural disasters."

CISM TeamCurrently operating in a virtual capacity due to travel and social distancing guidelines, the CISM Team provides support based on a step-by-step approach to managing stress and self-care. This approach, called the SAFER/R model, was developed by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Essential workers like first responders, health care workers, and correctional staff should take note of the elements of SAFER/R to ensure that they are properly managing self-care during the pandemic.

STABILIZE your environment.

Basic needs first come first, including rest, food, and mental health. Front line employ­ees should be doing regular self-assessments, and looking out for cowork­ers as well.

ACKNOWLEDGE the uncertainty of the global pandemic.

COVID-19 is not a typical crisis response in which in-person, interpersonal support is possible. Group meetings and travel are discouraged, and social distancing is encouraged to reduce the spread of infection. Acknowledge the difficulty of the COVID-19 crisis, and provide extra support when talking with colleagues. Listen calmly and without judgment to their con­cerns.

FACILITATE understanding.

Obtaining frequent, up-to-date information on the COVID-19 response is vital. Share information often and encourage emotional and physical health care during the crisis. Compas­sionately dispel any rumors or myths, while providing accurate information and validating each other's feelings and concerns.

ENCOURAGE and develop effective coping skills.

Help fellow team members apply the information they need to cope with their own stress as they each experience it. Simple actions such as going for a walk, doing something you enjoy, or helping someone else in need can be great coping mechanisms during these uncertain times.


Be alert to signs and symptoms of stress in yourself and others and utilize the tools available. In addition to the support of our CISM Team, CoreCivic has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) available to provide support and short term counseling to employees who need it.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, it is important to remember that the wellbeing of our nation's essential workforce is vital. Check on team members often, and remember — kindness goes a long way in helping peo­ple cope and heal.

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Topics: News