With an already distressed healthcare workforce demonstrating high levels of burnout, depression, and suicide, access to behavioral healthcare—particularly after experiencing an adverse event—is critical. Unfortunately, clinicians identify multiple barriers to seeking behavioral support.
A new study in the April 2023 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety (JQPS) introduces CHaMP (Center for Healthy Minds and Practice), a program designed to improve crisis response, build a peer support program and remove barriers to accessing mental healthcare by establishing an on-campus behavioral health support center.
Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine implemented CHaMP using Kotter’s 8-step Model of Change:
- Step one: Create a sense of urgency by demonstrating that clinicians need behavioral support.
- Step two: Build a guiding coalition by appointing a multidisciplinary well-being task force.
- Step three: Develop a strategic change vision by implementing a crisis response plan, peer support program, and work-life center.
- Step four: Communicate the vision and recruit a volunteer army by gaining leadership approval and financial support.
- Step five: Remove barriers by decreasing startup costs, ensuring convenient accessibility to work-life center and assuring confidentiality.
- Step six: Generate short-term wins with the work-life center grand opening, sharing employee coaching and counseling experiences, and reporting statistics showing rapid adoption of services.
- Step seven: Build on the change by using employee surveys to improve the service model and establishing long-term financial sustainability with metrics tying behavioral health services to employee retention and engagement as well as reduced medical errors, improved team functioning and morale, and decreased burnout and absenteeism.
- Step eight: Incorporate change into the culture by appointing a director of work-life center to the executive management board, providing bidirectional communication between leadership and employees.
Within the first months of establishing the program, the support team responded to multiple activations of the crisis response plan and provided counseling services to 631 employees. The crisis response plan included an internal communication list, scripts for communicating with media, family and public safety officers, and an internal support team of trained counselors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CHaMP played a central role in the support of all employees.
The study found that including key stakeholders in the organizational diagnosis and treatment process was key and that a collaborative approach, filtered through Kotter’s Model, is a powerful tool for designing positive, lasting interventions to address system and individual factors that affect clinician and employee well-being and resilience.