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How Agencies Can Prevent Burnout

Peel Region, Ontario

The need for harm reduction workers to have time off and avoid burnout is explored by Natalia in this video

Natalia in a video interview

See Transcript

In many cases we are expected to be perfect at work, and don’t have any kind of mental breakdowns or
exhaustion because supposedly this is what we are there for, no? But I think it’s important to
understand that if we as harm reduction workers don’t have the sensitivity and the compassion to feel,
and the empathy to feel what the others are feeling, then we are not able to do the job. But at the same
time all that empathy sometimes brings a certain level of burnout can be, or being drained and
exhausted. So creating spaces where the harm reduction workers can take time off, not from their
vacation time, but a specific kind of time off related with the burnout as a product of our job without
feeling like our job is in danger or our labour stability is in danger, no?
I also believe that wellbeing sessions should be provide for us. Like in this events we’re definitely
learning a lot about how to take care of ourselves. But being able to take time off, having benefits that
can help us to have, I don’t know, perhaps yoga or meditation or hiking activities. I try to do that actually
with my outreach team. We go for hiking together, we do breathing exercises, things of that nature that
keep us grounded and strong. And also I believe that it should be implemented, certain kind of time off
available for harm reduction workers when they are experiencing certain levels of burnout. That’s very
important. Then we get energy back and we are ready to go again.