Northern region of Denmark

Central psychosocial response team


To provide support for staff, a regional joint team consisting of psychologists, nurses, security managers, etc. from both medical and mental health clinics was established.

The aim was to provide additional services over and above the local physical and psychosocial work environment initiatives.

Both individual and group support was provided. Whereas the individual initiatives focused on increasing employees’ ability to handle the situation that they had experienced due to COVID-19, the group imitative focused on debriefing, psychoeducation, and providing information on the services provided by the response team as well as how to access them. These groups ranged from 5 to 50+ employees.

The service provided support to all staff, across all sites, hospitals and departments and contact with the support team was established in three ways:

  1. By email to a central mailbox.
  2. By a work environment hotline.
  3. By emergency hotline.

The first service includes support for referrals as well as discussing cases. This service was open every day, including weekends and holidays. The second offering was mainly intended to support managers; it was available every day between 8am and 8pm, offering advice in difficult situations involving employees. The last initiatives targeted those with an acute stress reaction who were on the verge of an acute breakdown or was available in case any employee or department had experienced a potentially traumatizing event where crisis support was needed. Here support was provided 24/7.

Learnings in the project:

  • Based on the work that has been done during the spring and autumn, it is evident that employees experience various challenges. One essential challenge, however, is that basic physiological needs were often not fulfilled (e.g., resting, eating) because it was not currently possible or they seemed trivial at that time. However, fulfilling these needs is important to ensure that employees have the energy that is required to deal with the aversive situation for a longer period. Helping employees distribute their energy so that they are levelling their energy and not burning out after the intensive acute phases might be an important task through which managers and team leaders can support their staff. Metaphorically, it was relevant to encourage and support employees not to sprint and utilize their energy all at once, but rather managers should encourage their staff to run an ultra-marathon by saving energy along the way to be able to make it to the finish line.
  • Employees’ stress reactions and their need for help manifested with a delay. On the one hand, this provides healthcare organisations with additional time to implement large-scale support structures; at the same time, the delayed reactions of healthcare staff might also send the signal that no support is needed. Thus, its relevant to secure that support and services are planned and available for extended periods of time during the initial crisis but also after the crisis has subsided.
  • In particular, after some time, external support can be necessary as the regular support structures such as colleague support might be drained after a while due to the external strain.
  • The support services have been used by many employees. First, it was primarily employees from intensive care and subsequently employees seeking help who had more diverse backgrounds. Not only the frontline staff are affected, but the whole system.
  • Based on the outcomes of the project, these regional initiatives can be recommended. To be able to quickly set up such an initiative, it can be useful to map employees’ skills to provide the basis for a quick regrouping when forming this kind of regional collaboration. Having a central service with one point of access for all sites ensured continuous capacity to respond, rather than having smaller, parallel initiatives running e.g. at each site or hospital.

Find out more

Find here more material on the webinar recording for this case and the additional material shared during the presentation.

Webinar Recording
Presentation of Northern region of Denmark well-being