Healthy Working Lives - Covid19 Updates | /support-for-helpline-workers
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Support in Scotland for people providing helpline advice and support

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting all of our lives. People are experiencing anxiety as a result of having to self-isolate and socially distance whilst worrying about vulnerable family and friends and concerned about the impact of the outbreak on their jobs. Of course, this list is not exhaustive and there are many other worries or concerns that individuals may have.

Whilst managing our own thoughts, feelings and worries about COVID-19 we may well be having to provide reassurance, advice and support to others as part of our job during this difficult time.

Modern helplines respond to people needing help and support through a range of mediums including phone, text, email and webchat. Processing and responding to emotionally challenging calls and contacts can have an impact at the best of times; During COVID-19 it is especially important that individuals are supported with the increased pressure and demands of their role.

With more of us working remotely at the moment, these suggestions may help:


Advice and Tips for Employers


  • Schedule regular meetings with the team and with individuals to allow you to ‘check-in’ and make it easier for you to pick up on any issues. At times such as this, when issues are changing or information is being updated daily, you may need to ‘check-in’ more often with calls or virtual meetings.
  • Provide effective training and ensure ongoing training on managing emotionally challenging calls is relevant; “Mock” or “Practice” sessions can be helpful.
  • Encourage employees to have down time in between calls, particularly after difficult ones.
  • Review your routes for supporting and supervising staff.  Do you reflectively debrief following difficult calls?  If not, it is key to chat to and support staff when necessary.
  • Encourage your staff to take regular breaks to allow them to rest, eat and have time away from their workspace. Work/life balance is important, so encourage them to only work their agreed hours to make sure they are having appropriate rest time.
  • Have clear routes for supporting staff who are distressed or need support.  These are difficult times and there are many issues that can arise.  You are not expected to be an expert on all things but there may be policies in the organisation that can help with issues that arise or you may have access to employee support schemes or an occupational health service.  

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