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Self Care Toolkit Self Care Toolkit
New P3H Program works with the Florida Department of Health to create a Self Care Toolkit

Dr. James M. Shultz and his team developed a responder resilience training program for the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) as part of the new Protect & Promote Population Health in Complex Crises (P3H) program in the Department of Public Health Sciences (DPHS), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

P3H focuses on protecting population health in rapid-onset disasters and extreme events, and in gradual-onset or prolonged environmental crises and pandemics.

Dr. James Shultz

We all face challenges and stressors at home and in the workplace. For FDOH professionals, their daily reality now includes the rigors of working throughout the unpredictable course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Sporadically, FDOH personnel are called upon to shift from their usual tasks to take on disaster response duties during climate-related extreme weather events, including hurricanes, floods, and heat waves.

These superimposed stressors of work duties, pandemic risks, and climate disasters motivated the FDOH to expand its educational offerings in order to strengthen the resiliency of the workforce.




Dr. James Shultz

“FDOH professionals perform their usual, blue-sky roles daily and routinely. However, as state employees, these same professionals may be deployed during disasters and tasked with performing their grey-sky frontline roles in the field,” expressed James M. Shultz, MS, PhD, Associate Professor in DPHS. “Since 2020, COVID-19 duties have taken grey-sky activation to the extreme, both in terms of work intensity and extended duration,” he concluded.

SELF-CARE TOOLKIT” was the name given to the responder resilience training program by the FDOH. The product is an ADA-compliant, PowerPoint-based, introductory training session for FDOH personnel. Follow-on face-to-face trainings are planned. The SELF-CARE TOOLKIT lays out the challenges faced by the FDOH workforce in this era of pandemic and climate-change-related hazards. The toolkit provides dozens of tools for FDOH professionals and staff to consider in order to diminish work stress and handle an overwhelming workload. The toolkit is the first in a series on which P3H will concentrate on.

Dr. Shultz sketched a basic design for a six-drawer toolkit, and Alexis Morales Rivera, Manager of Broadcast Operations in the School of Communication at the University of Miami, produced the artwork and guided the production process.


The six drawers

The top drawer consists of “resilient lifestyle” tools—including the basics of healthy physical activity, diet, and sleep, as well as preventive medical care, and pandemic precautions along a selection of mobile applications for nutrition, restful sleep, and exercise.

The other five drawers provide tools for strengthening each of the 5 keys to resilience and overcoming adversity. “These 5 keys—safety, calming, connectedness, capability, and self-esteem—are grounded on science and form the basis for the most common interventions to support disaster behavioral health for individuals, families, and frontline response teams exposed to disasters and extreme events,” explained Dr. Shultz.

Self Care Toolkit and the 6 drawers 

As examples, for safety, creating a family disaster plan and packing “go-kits” for each family member are essential actions. For calming, learners are introduced to: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) How Right Now campaign in order to support the coping capacities for frontline workers, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Hotline, the Feelings Wheel, and mobile applications for stress management. Connectedness tools outline team-building skills and development of a family communication and reunification plan. Capability tools emphasize planning, preparing, and prioritizing stress management for those grey sky roles. Self-esteem tools instill confidence through affirmations, positive self-talk, and self-compassion.

Behind the scenes

Alumni from the Department of Public Health Sciences contributed to the look and feel of the toolkit and created a high-quality, stand-alone introductory video to provide a quick overview of the SELF-CARE TOOLKIT product.

Victoria Pinilla Escobar Wyant, MA, MPH, CPH, assisted with identification of available tools to appeal to the wide age range and background of FDOH personnel, and Alexa Echembrecher, MPH, recorded the voice-overs for each slide and the introductory video.

The toolkit was approved by the FDOH on June 30th, and it is currently being prepared for training the workforce.

“The P3H team is eager to hear about how this training is received, as a lead-in to future resilience-focused educational offerings,” expressed Dr. Shultz.

Written by Deycha Torres Hernández
Published on August 26, 2022