Supporting Staff Mental Health

By:  Keeley Naughton, Aquatic Supervisor, The City of Newport

As a lifeguard manager, your role extends beyond overseeing safety protocols and training your staff to be vigilant and efficient in their duties.  It is equally important to pay attention to the mental well-being of your lifeguard team.  Supporting their mental health not only contributes to their personal growth and happiness but also enhances their on-the-job performance and overall productivity.  This article, we will explore some strategies and practices to prioritize mental health and create a supportive environment within your lifeguard team.

Establish an environment where lifeguards feel comfortable discussing their concerns and experiences.  Encourage open communication by organizing regular team meetings and providing a platform for staff members to voice their opinions, ideas, and challenges.  Be an attentive listener, showing empathy and offering support when necessary.  By fostering open communication, you create a sense of belonging and trust among your team members.

Make mental health resources easily accessible to your staff.  Share information about mental health support services, such as counseling or therapy options, within your organization or local community.  If your organization has an employee assistance plan that is available to lifeguards, share that information with them and encourage them to explore the various resources available.  Create a dedicated space or bulletin board where lifeguards can find relevant information, such as helpline numbers, online resources, or workshops focused on stress management and self-care.  This demonstrates your commitment to their well-being and provides them with the necessary tools to seek help when needed.

Lifeguarding can be physically and mentally demanding, often requiring long hours and irregular shifts.  Encourage your staff to prioritize work-life balance by setting clear scheduling policies that allow for adequate rest and time off.  Avoid overworking your lifeguards and ensure that they have opportunities for breaks during their shifts.  Encourage them to pursue hobbies and interests outside of work, which can serve as effective stress relievers and contribute to their overall mental well-being.

Create a supportive team culture that encourages collaboration, teamwork, and positive relationships.  Organize team-building activities or outings to strengthen bonds between coworkers and foster a sense of camaraderie.  Encourage peer support and establish mentorship programs where experienced lifeguards can guide and support newer team members.  When staff members feel supported and connected to their colleagues, it significantly enhances their mental well-being and job satisfaction.

Invest in mental health training and education for both yourself and your lifeguard team.  Equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to recognize signs of mental distress or burnout amongst your staff.  Provide training sessions on stress management, resilience, and self-care practices.  This empowers lifeguards to proactively manage their mental health and supports a culture of well-being within your team.

Regularly check in with your lifeguards on an individual basis to assess their well-being.  Take the time to understand their challenges and concerns, and provide guidance or resources as needed.  These check-ins demonstrate your genuine interest in their mental health and create a space for them to share any difficulties they may be facing.  By addressing issues early on, you can prevent them from escalating and provide appropriate support.

Supporting the mental health of your lifeguard staff is an essential aspect of being an effective manager.  Implementing strategies such as encouraging open communication, providing mental health resources, promoting work-life balance, fostering a supportive team culture, investing in training and education, and conducting regular check-ins will help create a healthier and more resilient lifeguard team.  When you support your staff’s mental health, you contribute to their success and the overall safety and well-being of everyone they serve.

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