Vicarious trauma and self care strategies for investigators
Vicarious trauma is a reality for many investigators. Workplace investigators require ready access to a range of self-care strategies to help them maintain optimum mental wellbeing. As well as physical health, mental health is emerging as a crucial element of worker wellness that needs addressing across all sectors – including the high-stress world of workplace investigation.
Stressors can take many forms, including recounts of confronting events, angry witnesses, work deadlines and competing stakeholder demands. Just like any workers, investigators deserve to maintain wellness as they tackle the rigours of investigations.
We provide our top tips for self-care strategies to enhance and protect workplace investigators’ mental wellbeing.
The rising rates of stress in the workplace have seen the introduction of some innovative wellness solutions. From free fruit to quiet rooms, employee assistance services to on-screen break reminders, many corporate workplaces are finally embracing the need for a well workforce. However, it can be challenging to deploy such measures with a mobile workforce, such as workplace investigations. It is important that employers of investigators ensure that their staff is equipped with a portable ‘toolkit’ of mental wellness tools that are accessible at the office and beyond.
Mindfulness activities are an excellent place to start. In the midst of a challenging investigative workload, being able to use deep breathing skills such as the Stanford 3 x 3 Challenge can give the perfect mental health boost.
Vicarious trauma awareness
Hearing and reading about distressing workplace events can certainly take its toll across time. A form of PTSD – vicarious trauma – can emerge. The mental health of the person absorbing traumatic details is affected, despite them not being a part of the original event. How to recognise symptoms and guard against potential vicarious trauma is an important part of training workplace investigators in effective self-care.
Peer networks and mental wellbeing
In the professional context, peers are pure wellness gold: they are those are those who simply ‘get’ the many rigours of the role. In the case of workplace investigation, mental wellbeing can be enhanced by peers staying in touch with each other in order to swap challenges, tips and support. For employers of workplace investigators, keeping the mobile investigative workforce connected and interactive is a simple and effective way to reduce isolation and enhance mental wellbeing. This can take the form of informal or semi-structured networks of workplace investigators, who can gain rich connections and ongoing peer support as they carry out their mentally challenging work.