In partnership with Councilwoman Helen Gym, Councilman Al Taubenberger, and documentary filmmakers Vic Compher and Rodney Whittenberg, the Philadelphia ACE Task Force co-hosted a screening of Portraits of Professional Caregivers: Their Passion. Their Pain. and briefing about Secondary Traumatic Stress for Philadelphia City Council on Friday, April 21st.
Councilmembers, their staffers, and other community leaders attended the screening and briefing. The audience was struck by the depiction of the impact of Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) on Philadelphia’s workforce. CAREgivers Film illustrates the significant emotional costs experienced by many professional providers such as teachers, nurses, child welfare workers, firefighters, first responders, police, doctors, and clinical psychologists, who rescue, assist, and help those who been injured or experienced trauma.
[From Left to Right: Caitlin O'Brien, Carolyn Smith-Brown, Councilman Al Taubenberger, Rodney Whittenberg, Councilwoman Helen Gym, Vic Compher, Julie Campbell, Alyson Ferguson, Suzanne O'Connor, and Patricia Gerrity]
Following the film, councilmembers had the opportunity to hear directly from caregivers and first responders about strategies they have used to alleviate STS. They also learned about effective organizational structures that provide emotional relief for these workers and that nurture resilience and sustainability in the workforce.
Few are aware that an estimated 30 percent of professional caregivers experience STS at some point during their careers. Also referred to as Compassion Fatigue or Vicarious Trauma, STS is a significant mental and physical health condition whose symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, intrusive imagery (flashbacks), work avoidance, and addictive or compulsive behavior. Not only can STS increase burnout and turnover, it can also impede the ability of professional caregivers to provide high quality care for the populations they serve.
The Philadelphia ACE Task Force will continue to work with the filmmakers and councilmembers to address secondary traumatic stress among professional caregivers and first responders in the city.