Promoting Staff Mental Health in a Challenging Environment

graphic that reads "self care isn't selfish"

Balance is essential for managing mental health

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Managed Care is a nationally recognized leader in correctional health care, providing high-quality medical services up to 30,000 adult patients across Texas. With 23 facilities located in 18 geographical sites throughout the state, TTUHSC partners with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and local communities to offer comprehensive health care solutions.

One of the key areas of focus for TTUHSC Managed Care in these facilities is mental health treatment. TTUHSC Managed Care consists of diligent health care providers that are dedicated to providing exceptional care for mental health patients across the across the state of Texas.

In turn, the mental health of TTUHSC’s Managed Care staff is of utmost importance, especially considering the high-stress environments they often encounter, such as crisis management and the diagnostic and psychiatric evaluation (D&E) processes. Health care providers, in particular, face unique challenges in their roles.

Nurturing a Resilient Workforce for Optimal Care

At TTUHSC Managed Care, the staff works collaboratively with patients, providing optimal health care across all facilities, with an overarching goal being to "Prevent, Manage, and Treat" (PMT) the well-being of patients.

Recognizing the critical link between helping patients manage their mental health and the well-being of employees, TTUHSC Managed Care places great emphasis on staff self-care. They actively encourage employees to take breaks, utilize leave options, and engage in hobbies that promote personal well-being. In a correctional facility environment, where vigilance is paramount and each day brings new challenges, TTUHSC’s Managed Care leadership understands the importance of mental and physical well-being. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) offers a designated area known as a Wellness Room within each of its units, allowing staff members to engage in relaxation and stress-relief activities at any time of the day, around the clock.

TTUHSC Managed Care promotes staff self-care through bi-weekly "Stay Connected" meetings where colleagues can exchange self-care practices. These meetings involve mental health care providers from various facilities. In addition, the mental health directors conduct weekly meetings in both inpatient and outpatient facilities. The mental health leadership team also meets bi-weekly with regional managing directors from the western, northern, and eastern regions to address mental health-related unit concerns.

When asked about the significance of mental health, the dedicated TTUHSC Managed Care employees shared their unique perspectives:

  •  "Helping someone save their own life."
  • "Our obligation to serve those in need."
  • "Enabling us to serve the population in the best possible way."
  • "Self-care."

In terms of managing their own mental health, Tamarra Mason emphasized the importance of balance. TTUHSC Managed Care encourages transparency, prioritizing self-care, and fostering a focus on safety amongst employees and patients.

"Maintaining a balance is essential for managing both patients' and our own mental health. It is important to recognize that everyone experiences challenges related to mental health, and seeking help and remedies should be normalized."

-Mason, T., MA, MBA, (n.d.). Managing Director, Mental Health Services, TTUHSC Managed Care 

In their commitment to supporting staff well-being and preventing burnout, TTUHSC strives to provide opportunities for health care providers to experience a change of scenery, whether through shifts to different facilities or transitions from in-patient to outpatient departments.

By prioritizing the mental health and well-being of staff, TTUHSC Managed Care aims to create an environment where both employees and patients can thrive.

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