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Impact of Covid-19 on Volunteers of the Benevolent Society

The covid-19 pandemic affected the overall life and well-being of individuals throughout the world. Organizations also suffered as there was difficulty in recruiting and retaining new and existing volunteers which considerably increased the workload (Biddle & Gray, 2020). The aim of this paper is to propose a group counselling strategy for improvement in mental health and self-care skills among the volunteers in the Benevolent Society. Group therapies help individuals to learn and improve communication and socialization skills along with better handling of criticism. This also develops self-awareness as people learn from others by hearing their problems. This paper mention various kinds of counselling strategies for the volunteers to help them overcome personal mental health issues and thereby be confident in handling clients.

The Benevolent Society has suffered an enormous amount during the Covid-19 restrictions as handling clients became a problem because of these conditions. This also affected the volunteers working in the organization. This created occupational stress among the volunteers and thus volunteers resigned particularly because of the pandemic and its restrictions. Occupational stress is a major reason of leaving any organization (Moreno Fortes, Tian & Huebner, 2020). Those who stayed back were not motivated enough to deal with clients and were unsure of the future prospects in the organization. As the requirements in the healthcare field increased during the pandemic, reducing numbers of volunteers put pressure on the existing volunteers. Thus they suffered mentally. These situations increased the work load of the organization as the remaining volunteers were less and also demotivated. To deal with these problems and to increase the volunteers, the organization wants to arrange events and sessions that will help retain and recruit more volunteers to the Benevolent Society.

Mental health may be defined as the well-being of an individual on emotional, psychological and social levels and constitutes an important aspect of every human’s life. Thus, it is the ability of an individual to emote and interact their feelings and live a purposeful life (Siegel, 2019). Mental health protection should be considered as a cause of concern throughout the world especially when the world is facing a pandemic (Grover et al., 2020). Mental health interventions generally refer to those approaches which are taken for the improvement of a person’s mental health. They can be therapeutic approaches which may include professional help and observational treatment methods. Some common intervention tools relevant for volunteers of Benevolent Society will be psychological interventions, and counselling interventions. Psychological interventions include techniques that are based on evidences of their conditions due to some trauma or injury thus providing long-term solutions of the problems (Giummarra et al, 2018). Counselling is a special intervention tool that provides a secure environment to converse and deal problems with a mental health professional.  This improves the quality of handling situations in the individuals.    

Therapy helps an individual to feel safe and discuss their problems usually with a professional who looks out for the well-being of the individual. They help individuals to deal with issues like anxiety, anger, self-esteem, depression among others. Some of the most common therapeutic approaches are psychodynamic counselling, humanistic therapy, integrative therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Mental Health Interventions for Volunteers of the Benevolent Society

Psychodynamic counselling involves revelation of the subconscious thoughts and ideas of an individual to understand the inner conflicts of an individual. However, this method of therapy is rooted in deep exploration of the patient’s past and can therefore be quite time consuming and hence not recommended for group counselling.  Integrative therapy is treatment of patients based on combining and tailoring therapeutic strategies according to the individual’s needs. It is not possible to implement such a detailed therapy for each individual of the group. Similarly, humanistic therapy focuses on the individual as a whole and this is also an individualistic approach which is not suitable for the Benevolent Society.   

Cognitive behavioral theory (CBT) is the combination of cognitive and behavioral therapies and tries to provide a more complete and holistic solution to the patients. It helps the patients to identify and change irrational or negative thoughts and ideas that can have detrimental impact on their lives (Carpenter et al., 2018). The focus remains on building a connection between the emotions, ideas and activities of the patients so as to develop a nuanced opinions and response (Algahtani et al., 2019). This also enables patients to try and learn new skills. This therapy when applied to a group increases the chances of positive outcomes and hence is taken as the proposed strategy for the volunteers of Benevolent Society.

This is a special type of therapy that includes multiple individuals and one or more than one therapists in one session. This can be provided to group of individuals who have same or similar kinds of mental health barriers. Group therapy gives an environment that creates emotional safety for all participants. Group therapy sessions produce effective results in people dealing with social anxiety. Also, group therapy is a great cost-effective method to receive therapy.

In an organization this will be the best way of counselling as it will deal with all the members and give a common ground to each for discussing and understanding their problems. Organizing group therapy multiple times will generate the feeling of belonging among the volunteers. Discussing their problems and skills will enable them to support and learn from each other. Such activities will also develop team spirit and enable them to work more professionally.

The volunteers of Benevolent Society will benefit from group therapy based on cognitive behavioral theory. These have become essential as volunteers are not only suffering from the infection but also psychologically (Soklaridis et al., 2020). These therapy sessions will motivate the volunteers to deal with their problems together and give them a sense of belonging. In a study conducted by Brenninkmeijer et al., (2019), application of CBT among individuals showed an increase in the return of employees to the organization. By adding skill development training in these sessions, volunteers will be able to learn important skills like teamwork spirit and communication skill which are important in the healthcare field. These can be done by allowing the members to play the role of client so that they have a first-hand experience in dealing actual clients. This will also develop communication and comprehension skills (Vizeshfar, Zare & Keshtkaran, 2019).  Through these interactions with the therapists and among themselves they will gain confidence and motivation to handle clients’ trauma.

Overview of Therapy Approaches for Volunteer Mental Health Improvement

Organization should invite professional therapists to make these sessions helpful and productive. Therapists will be able to observe and learn the mental health situation of the volunteers and can provide solutions based on those observations. Organization should also try to incorporate sessions between volunteers to help them know each other better. Appreciation of volunteers will also motivate them to work harder for the organization (Yildiz et al., 2020). Making the volunteers feel important will help them better engage with the organization and each other. If any volunteer lack certain quality, they should be provided with training sessions which will help them work more efficiently.

As volunteers in the healthcare field certain skills are considered essential for better co-operation and management of clients’ needs. The most important of these is the skill of communicating properly within the team as well as with patients (van Rijssen et al., 2021). If the communication is not proper, the lives of patients may be under risk because of lack or misinterpretation of information (Hassan, 2018). Effective communication includes not just expressing opinions appropriately but also listening and understanding the opinion and perspective of others (Ratna, 2019). Another important aspect of working in collaboration is developing the skill of teamwork. As a member of a team, everyone must respect and adhere to the job role assigned (Rosen et al., 2018). When each member works as a part of the team efficiently, everyone manages their time and role effectively.

To achieve this in Benevolent Society, volunteers can be assigned sessions of group therapy that focuses on developing skills by organizing skill development group and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This will help the volunteers to develop social skills like communicating better with clients as well as other organizations and professionals. Group therapy helps attain support as many people in the group have similar issues and also improves communication and comprehensive skills as all members learn from the problems faced by other members (Jørgensen & Rendtorff, 2018). During the CBT sessions volunteers can be given client handling training. This will help the volunteers to understand the clients as well as not be overwhelmed by their problems.

Conclusion

From the above discussions it can be concluded that the mental health of the volunteers has been impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To improve the mental health of the volunteers in the Benevolent Society, group therapy sessions based on CBT should be arranged. These sessions will not only motivate them to handle clients more efficiently but will also develop their communication and comprehension skills. Better communication and understanding of the clients’ situations will help them to deal the trauma more appropriately. Group therapy also lets volunteers share and learn from each other’s skills and experience. This therefore is proposed as the strategy that will help to better retain volunteers within the Benevolent Society. When more and more volunteers will engage with the organization hiring new volunteers will also become easy. 

References

Algahtani, H. M. S., Almulhim, A., AlNajjar, F. A., Ali, M. K., Irfan, M., Ayub, M., & Naeem, F. (2019). Cultural adaptation of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for patients with depression and anxiety in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain: A qualitative study exploring views of patients, carers, and mental health professionals. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 12.https://doi.org/10.1017/S1754470X1900028X

Biddle, N., & Gray, M. (2020). The experience of volunteers during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.https://hdl.handle.net/1885/213197

Brenninkmeijer, V., Lagerveld, S. E., Blonk, R. W., Schaufeli, W. B., & Wijngaards-de Meij, L. D. (2019). Predicting the effectiveness of work-focused CBT for common mental disorders: the influence of baseline self-efficacy, depression and anxiety. Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 29(1), 31-41. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10926-018-9760-3

Carpenter, J. K., Andrews, L. A., Witcraft, S. M., Powers, M. B., Smits, J. A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta?analysis of randomized placebo?controlled trials. Depression and anxiety, 35(6), 502-514.https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22728

Giummarra, M. J., Lennox, A., Dali, G., Costa, B., & Gabbe, B. J. (2018). Early psychological interventions for posttraumatic stress, depression and anxiety after traumatic injury: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical psychology review, 62, 11-36.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2018.05.001

Grover, S., Dua, D., Sahoo, S., Mehra, A., Nehra, R., & Chakrabarti, S. (2020). Why all COVID-19 hospitals should have mental health professionals: The importance of mental health in a worldwide crisis!. Asian journal of psychiatry, 51, 102147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajp.2020.102147

Hassan, I. (2018). Avoiding medication errors through effective communication in healthcare environment. Movement, Health & Exercise, 7(1), 113-126.https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3573437

Jørgensen, K., & Rendtorff, J. D. (2018). Patient participation in mental health care–perspectives of healthcare professionals: an integrative review. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 32(2), 490-501.https://doi.org/10.1111/scs.12531

Moreno Fortes, A., Tian, L., & Huebner, E. S. (2020). Occupational stress and employees complete mental health: a cross-cultural empirical study. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(10), 3629. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103629

Ratna, H. (2019). The importance of effective communication in healthcare practice. Harvard Public Health Review, 23, 1-6.https://www.jstor.org/stable/48546767

Rosen, M. A., DiazGranados, D., Dietz, A. S., Benishek, L. E., Thompson, D., Pronovost, P. J., & Weaver, S. J. (2018). Teamwork in healthcare: Key discoveries enabling safer, high-quality care. American Psychologist, 73(4), 433.https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000298

Siegel, D. J. (2019). The mind in psychotherapy: An interpersonal neurobiology framework for understanding and cultivating mental health. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 92(2), 224-237.https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12228

Soklaridis, S., Lin, E., Lalani, Y., Rodak, T., & Sockalingam, S. (2020). Mental health interventions and supports during COVID-19 and other medical pandemics: A rapid systematic review of the evidence. General hospital psychiatry, 66, 133-146.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2020.08.007

van Rijssen, M. N., Veldkamp, M., Bryon, E., Remijn, L., Visser-Meily, J. M., Gerrits, E., & van Ewijk, L. (2021). How do healthcare professionals experience communication with people with aphasia and what content should communication partner training entail?. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-8.https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2021.1878561

Vizeshfar, F., Zare, M., & Keshtkaran, Z. (2019). Role-play versus lecture methods in community health volunteers. Nurse Education Today, 79, 175-179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2019.05.028

Yildiz, D., Temur, G. T., Beskese, A., & Bozbura, F. T. (2020). A spherical fuzzy analytic hierarchy process based approach to prioritize career management activities improving employee retention. Journal of Intelligent & Fuzzy Systems, 39(5), 6603-6618.10.3233/JIFS-189122

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