Being asked to host an online session at the Insights23 event was a tremendous compliment and a validation of the work I've dedicated over 25 years of my career to, spanning criminal justice, psychology, and professional wellbeing. My journey has led me to specialise in supporting staff in what we term "Critical Occupations," where individuals knowingly expose themselves to traumatic events, interactions, and materials daily. This description perfectly encapsulates the challenging world of criminal justice work. However, it's essential to understand that being exposed to trauma doesn't automatically lead to Post Traumatic Stress. Research has revealed that there are numerous safeguards and strategies, both organisational and personal, that can minimise the risk and even foster post-traumatic personal growth and self-development among employees.
My commitment to hosting the Insights event was a part of my personal mission to raise awareness about these techniques, improve resilience, encourage self-care, and prompt organisations like HMPPS to embrace this research and work collaboratively to build a stronger and well-protected workforce.
The Insightful Questions
For the session, all attendees were encouraged to submit questions related to well-being and thriving at work. The intent was to provide information that would be not only relevant but deeply meaningful to their roles. It was heartening to see that all the questions submitted were pertinent, thoughtful, and rooted in the very essence of humanity. Equally noteworthy was the attendees' focus on supporting their colleagues rather than solely on themselves. The hour allocated for the session could have easily stretched longer, given the richness of the discussions.
From practical tips on daily support for colleagues to strategies for influencing a complex and ever-changing organization, it was both a challenge and an exhilarating experience to provide comprehensive responses. More importantly, it was immensely gratifying to witness people actively engaging in the development of strategies to enhance their well-being and resilience, understanding that success in this endeavor could lead to improved performance and professional satisfaction.
One attendee's post-session comment, "This was a great insight into the pressures faced by professionals and was a useful mix of theoretical discussion and practical hints and tips. Very interesting and helpful input," captured the essence of our collective efforts.
A Vision for the Future
From my perspective, it would be great to establish regular "phone-in" opportunities for staff to discuss the challenges of thriving in critical occupations. Such a practice could not only enhance staff well-being but also invigorate their energy and performance. Ultimately, this would positively impact the lives of those we aim to support towards living offence-free lives.
The Insights23 event was a reminder of the untapped potential within organisations and individuals to nurture resilience and well-being in critical occupations. The questions raised, the insights shared, and the commitment to supporting colleagues showcased a genuine desire for growth and positive change.
As we move forward, it's my hope that we can continue to engage in such dialogues, fostering a culture of well-being and resilience that not only benefits the professionals who expose themselves to trauma daily but also serves as a catalyst for positive transformation in our communities.
For more information about my work and Petros, please visit our website at www.petros.org.uk.
Professor Joanna Clarke and the award-winning team at Petros are dedicated to delivering evidence-based, highly effective prevention and early intervention mental health support programs. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.