Managing compassion fatigue in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic

Helping doesn’t have to hurt

First-person essay by Sharise Nance

In my 21-year career as a social worker, there have been many good days and many breakthroughs and times when something worked out just right. But just as often and occasionally at the same time, there are the days when I would go home after helping numerous people and feel exhausted and empty.

Social service and healthcare professionals are often called upon to offer hope and healing to those struggling to navigate life’s complexities. On a typical day, the expectations placed upon frontline workers by themselves and others are high. And it puts them at high risk for compassion fatigue.

Compassion fatigue is the emotional distress or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others and witnessing pain, suffering and trauma. It is a serious, yet natural, consequence of helping people who are experiencing pain and trauma.

Now, the COVID-19 global pandemic is amplifying all of the factors that lead to compassion fatigue. The pandemic demands an increased need for frontline and direct response workers to fulfill the medical, mental and social health needs of the families and communities impacted.

Sharise Nance is a licensed clinical social worker, certified clinical trauma professional and compassion fatigue specialist. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)


Helping doesn’t have to hurt: Managing compassion fatigue in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic

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