The 211 LA team handles thousands of calls a year. Last year alone, over 400,000 calls were answered by our staff. Every one of these calls involves people seeking help, and a large majority of these calls involve people who are experiencing personal crises. Individuals in crisis often present a wide range of emotions, from hopelessness to anger. It is the job of 211 LA’s Community Resource Advisors to manage these emotionally charged conversations, identify the individual’s needs, and provide them with referrals and information to address their needs.
For eight hours a day, our Community Resource Advisors take on the emotional weight of call after call, giving them quite a workout during their day at work. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to leave this weight at work and not let the stress of callers become your stress - an experience referred to as compassion fatigue.
In efforts to support our staff, 211 LA regularly seeks best practices and tools for self-care and resiliency. It is our goal to help staff learn how to carry this weight and maintain a happy and healthy life. It was through such a search that 211 LA met Patricia Jones, founder of the P.S. I Love You Foundation and its program, Love4Life.
The P.S. I Love You Foundation’s mission is to “develop and implement effective social and emotional learning programs for at risk youth from elementary to high school to influence positive habits, social and emotional awareness and healthy relationships.”
Patricia Jones met with 211 LA’s coaching staff to discuss how her social and emotional learning programs could be adapted to meet the needs of our agency, and help address concerns about the well-being of our Community Resource Advisors. In these conversations the following concerns were identified:
Taking work home emotionally.
Internalizing saying "no" to a caller.
Not being able to provide referrals for all callers.
Patricia then hosted a two-day training with our coaching staff to provide tools and information on how to address these concerns through her Love4Life program.
The training began with a grounding activity. The energy in the room quickly stabilized and became calm. Patricia explained how this activity was in part effective because the breathing activated the Vagus Nerve, which helps control our stress. It was also effective because it drew the team’s awareness to where they were, and away from any stressors they were experiencing.
Patricia and the coaching staff worked through several other activities from the Love4Life workshop and how 211 LA can best implement these tools with our Community Resource Advisors. By the end of the training 211 LA’s coaching staff was prepared to take this workshop back to their teams and help build a more resilient and supported team. The coaching staff was left with resonating message that we are all human and so although we will experience an emotional and biological response to stress, we can also control how we respond emotionally by implementing some science of our own.