Many Resources Still Available to Help Staff Recover from January 6 Attacks

Congressional Management Foundation 

April 6, 2021

Today marks three months since the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Just as a scab was beginning to form over that painful scar, the congressional community was again thrown into a lockdown by an armed threat bringing back all the terrible memories. You may feel that nothing will ever be back to “normal.” Trauma takes a long time to heal, and everyone heals differently. But there are many outside groups that want to help congressional staff recover and, in time, thrive.

Recognizing the continued effect of workplace violence on staff’s mental well-being, the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) is offering a webinar tomorrow, April 7, on Managing Trauma and Stress, in partnership with SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. This program, featuring former Rep. Brian Baird, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, is open to staff at all levels and in all offices, including interns, and will focus on: finding purpose in your work again; providing strategies for dealing with emotional or violent constituents; and other tips for achieving and maintaining good mental health. Sessions on personal safety and preparedness, as well as preventing burnout, are also being planned.

The institutional offices of Congress are also increasing their training, counseling, and guidelines. Make sure you and your office are aware of everything being offered, especially by the Senate Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and the House Office of Employee Assistance (OEA), and sign up for administrative Dear Colleagues (House only). If you’re worried about your inbox, you can designate one person in the office to receive and distribute them to the rest of the staff.

Most importantly, you need to know that you’re not alone! CapitolStrong is a group of about two dozen civil society organizations that came together in the wake of the January 6 attack to address the needs of staff who are often lost in the glare of the spotlight focused on their bosses. The CapitolStrong website has numerous resources for finding counselors, addressing the specific needs of different staffers (e.g., Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); caseworkers; and interns, to name a few), and guidance for rebuilding resilience. CMF’s Crisis Preparation and Response Center has webinars and guides that suggest ways to interact remotely with constituents while remaining safe; to help managers guide their staff through processing trauma and grief; and to provide offices guidance on managing during a current crisis and planning for the next one.

Finally, there are thousands of former Hill staff from the House, Senate, and legislative branch agencies who were appalled by the desecration of the Capitol and the threat of violence against staff and Members. Watch a video produced by the Bipartisan Policy Center with messages of support and encouragement from former staff and Members. Or go to the Congressional Staff Alumni Council to read the hundreds of well-wishes posted on the wall of thanks by congressional alumni to let you know that your service is recognized and appreciated. The public also stepped up in support of staff. The Architect of the Capitol received so many messages of support for his and other staff that he decided to publish a special edition of Thorlos—the Architect’s employee magazine—with a selection.

The Capitol community will continue to be profoundly affected by the horrific events of January 6. Take advantage of the helping hands reaching out to you and give yourself permission to work through the trauma on your own timeline.

 

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