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Employees from departments across King County have been involved in the COVID-19 response for many months now. While emergency response work is rewarding, the long hours, breadth of demands, and exposure to human suffering can adversely affect the most seasoned responder.

As we transition our pandemic response into the autumn and prepare to add in both the seasonal flu and the mental health crisis that experts are warning is ahead, there is a likeliness this already difficult work will become more so.

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Studies of emergency responders from Sept. 11, 2001 show that those involved in mental health support services, such as one-on-one counseling or support groups, have improved mental health outcomes. If you find you cannot take the time to attend to your own well-being, please communicate this concern to your HR manager or supervisor. Your well-being is as important as the well-being of the community you serve.

Well-being resources

This toolkit, which can be found here, is designed specifically for King County employees responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes tips and resources for supporting your physical and mental health.

King County Balanced You has partnered with Mindfulness Northwest to develop monthly mindfulness classes specifically for employees responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. During these live, interactive sessions, participants will review what reactivity and burnout are, the various aspects of mindfulness practice, and the ways mindfulness can help reduce stress and lead to greater resiliency. Visit this Balanced You blog post for more information, a class schedule, and registration links.

Debriefing Groups provide a safe space where employees currently involved in the COVID-19 response can check in, share experiences, and learn strategies for emotional well-being, stress reduction, and resiliency. These groups are offered in team-based formats and will soon also be offered as a drop-in option. Debriefing Groups meet virtually and are led by trained professionals. Contact BalancedYou@kingcounty.gov if you are interested in participating in or starting a team-based group.

Exercise can be an important part of emotional well-being. Balanced You, in partnership with Vivecorp, hosts two free, live, virtual exercise classes per week through December 2020. Total Body Strength will be Wednesdays from 5-5:50 p.m., and Yoga will be Fridays from noon to 12:50 p.m. Classes are held via Zoom and all fitness levels and household members are welcome. For more information, including registration instructions, visit this Balanced You blog post.

EAP is a program that offers employees one-on-one counseling for job-related topics. During the pandemic, EAP is available virtually. Visit www.kingcounty.gov/EAP for more information.
MLE is a program that offers free counseling to employees, their dependents, and anyone sharing their home address. During the pandemic, MLE is available virtually. Visit www.kingcounty.gov/MLE for more information.
For a more comprehensive list of King County employee and community mental health resources, review the Mental Health Resource Guide via this link.

Stay connected

Please share your feedback with the team at Balanced You so we can spread good ideas, share success stories, and bring new tools to help you feel energized and be your best. The more you tell us, the better Balanced You will be!

Email: BalancedYou@kingcounty.gov

Phone: 206-263-9626

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