What is resilience in health care?

It is well established that mental and physical health greatly impact one another. In the face of this unprecedented global crisis, it is imperative to provide frontline workers timely and practical mental health interventions in order to maintain skilled staff on the frontlines, functioning as well as possible in order to ensure the well-being of our society. In our current climate of stretched or limited health care resources, we simply cannot afford not to assist our frontline workers to be at their best.

More than education, experience or training, a person’s level of resilience (the ability to withstand, adapt to and recover from stress and adversity) has been noted to determine who succeeds and who fails in the face of trials and tribulations. Resilience is common and it can be enhanced.

Healthy adaptation has been shown to depend on the person and available resources at the time of need. Although there are some fixed biological predispositions that may support or hinder resilience, through epigenetic research we now know there are also many psychological interventions that can alter gene expression, further enhancing our resilience and that many of these can be taught.

Resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of adversity trauma, tragedy or threat. It can be enhanced through specific, resilience-promoting interventions and is our best route forward to optimally assist our frontline workers at this moment in history.