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Who, Me? How Do I Know if I Have Compassion Fatigue and Secondary Traumatic Stress?​

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The following is a text alternative description for Who, Me? How do I know if I have Compassion Fatigue and Secondary Traumatic Stress?

[The video begins with the HHS logo. Descriptive Text for the title slide: Logo for the US Department of Health and Human Services. ASPR Saving lives, Protecting Americans.]

Narrator: Welcome to “Who, Me? How do I know if I have Compassion Fatigue and Secondary Traumatic Stress?” This webinar is part of a series of modules sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, or ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange, or TRACIE.

ASPR TRACIE works closely with healthcare facilities, coalitions, ASPR Recovery staff, and HPP partners across the country and has repeatedly heard from disaster affected communities that disaster behavioral health recovery has been challenging for the healthcare providers involved in recent natural disasters and no-notice events.

Each of the modules we’ve developed includes a preview and a longer webinar. The three topics are:

  1. Addressing Compassion Fatigue and Behavioral Health Needs for Healthcare Providers,
  2. Organizational Behavioral Health and Wellness for Executive Level Healthcare Facility Staff, and
  3. Healthcare Provider Cognitive Strengthening Preparedness Program

Have you ever felt totally exhausted and overwhelmed at work, like there is nothing you can do to make the situation better? Or maybe one of your colleagues is jumpy and extremely worried that something bad is going to happen? Both of you may have been negatively affected by traumatic stress, you sound like you might have compassion fatigue and your colleague, well, he might have secondary traumatic stress.

At ASPR TRACIE, we know that healthcare professionals tend to be a highly self-reliant group-that is, you see yourselves as the helpers, and not as the people who would need assistance from others-either in assessing your needs or in delivering support services. And the stigma around any behavioral health concern is as active in health related disciplines as it is in the general public. Most people do not see themselves in need of mental health supports even when working in the intensely stressful environment of trauma services.

Also, either because of staffing patterns or the desire to help others on a very human caring basis which brought you to the professions to begin with, most of you in the healthcare professions, see yourselves as having to ‘work ‘till it hurts,’ often putting in long hours, covering staff shortages, skipping breaks, working through lunch, and routinely sacrificing your own comfort and self-care to ensure the care of others. You are a group that is very hard on yourselves.

If you are a healthcare professional who has learned well and does a good job of taking care of yourself, I congratulate you. But you are the not the norm.

Healthcare professionals are also a group that is skilled in providing specific services for which you are trained to deliver as an individual, but also functioning within the team setting. Thus, your performance is usually quite visible to your coworkers and thus, you tend to work a bit harder at controlling and concealing any distress symptoms for fear of being seen as weak or providing any basis for being judged negatively or stigmatized by your peers.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. This module will introduce you to the concept of traumatic stress. If you are a healthcare provider in general, and especially one who provides emergency or disaster response services, it is likely that you have been exposed to many traumatic situations. These might include treating patients or clients who are also victims of violent crimes, or survivors of a fire, or patients involved in a car crash, all with serious injuries. Or perhaps you’ve had to cope with larger-scale incidents like a hurricane, flood, or mass shooting incident where multiple patients, clients and families require lifesaving efforts all at the same time, causing intense pressure to perform quickly and continuously for long periods of time.

In the full webinar, you’ll learn the terms, risk factors, and symptoms associated with compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress. We will leave you with the good news and tools and resources that can keep you healthy and resilient.

There are many resources that can inform you further about acute stress, posttraumatic stress and secondary traumatic stress or compassion fatigue. ASPR TRACIE AND SAMHSA DTAC have educational fact sheets, webinars and podcasts that are free and accessible on line. Some are for survivors, other for helpers-some for parents and caregivers. Check them out.

And for those of you who are interested in the research, the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, NCPTSD website, will bring you to the Pilots database which is the most comprehensive collection of literature on these subjects.

These articles are also free and downloadable once you register.


Access the full training today to find out how you can preserve your well being as you continue to work in one of the most stressful and rewarding disciplines in the world.

Please reach out to us if you need technical assistance at; or call 1-844-5-TRACIE; or

[The video concludes with a non-descript background followed by the ASPR logo captioned, “Saving Lives. Protecting Americans.” The video ends.]