Guidance for individual members of staff in the event of a traumatic incident

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What is a traumatic or critical incident?

There is no specific definition of what might be a critical incident. Attention is often focused on the more extreme events which can occur, such as a large fire or terrorist threat. However, exposure to events such as a sudden staff death or an accident in a particular department, can impact people deeply.

The University has procedure and protocol in place in the event of a critical incident, you may wish to make a plan for your area. Details and toolkits can be found by visiting these webpages.

Guidance for individual members of staff in the event of a traumatic incident

If you have been involved in a critical or traumatic incident, it is firstly important to note that any negative changes to your emotional state in the short term are likely to be a natural reaction to the event. Where possible it can be helpful to talk to trusted colleagues, line managers, friends and family and try to maintain a daily routine that works for you.

Physical activity in the immediate aftermath of an event, as well as on-going, has also been shown to assist with emotional recovery and building resilience levels. You can access a range of Staff Wellbeing activities free of charge, that provide ways to support your individual health and wellbeing and that allow you to connect with others and be active. For information click here.

If after 6 weeks you are still experiencing acute or prolonged emotional distress, you may wish to consult with your own GP. We would also encourage you to have a conversation with your line manager, who can offer support through an occupational health referral.

Should you wish to speak to a trained counsellor, all staff have access to a confidential helpline and counselling sessions. For more information please click here.

For information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder please click here.

Guidance for teams and managers affected by a traumatic incident

If staff in a team have been affected by a critical incident, we would encourage the line manager to acknowledge the incident being impactful and consider any reasonable adjustments that can be made to support those affected. Line managers may wish to contact their HR Faculty team or alternately the Staff Wellbeing team who can advise on interventions and services available.

The University of Sheffield is committed to encouraging an open culture and conversation about mental wellbeing. Where appropriate line managers should support individuals affected by a critical incident to feel comfortable to talk to one another as well as make themselves approachable and available where required. To assist in providing a framework for these types of discussion we have created TALK.

Line Managers, as well as all staff, have access to Mental Wellbeing webpages for staff, that provide practical guidance and signpost to helpful services and resources in the local area.

Where you supervise students, who may have been impacted by a traumatic or critical incident, there are a range of services and processes in place to support their mental wellbeing – for more information please click here.

For NHS guidance on support following a major incident please click here.