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Luann Dunsford | Michigan Works! Association “Feel Good Fridays” Webinars

Michigan Business Beat
May 5, 2020 4:00 PM

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Shared here is information about “Feel Good Fridays” a series of Webinars presented by the Michigan Works! Association.

It's an interview by Jeffrey Mosher, with Luann Dunsford, their Chief Executive Officer, who discusses the three-part series slated for Friday May 8th, 15th, 22nd. Highlights of their discussion include the impact of the Coronavirus crisis on people’s mental health, steps people can take to ease their anxiety, and some challenges for Michigan Works! staff. 

To hear Luann and Jeffrey discuss this topic click play on the PodCast shared below.

Highlights of their discussion:

What impact is the Coronavirus crisis having on people’s mental health?

· A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that nearly half the people in the United States feel the Coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health.

· The poll was conducted March 25 to 30 and found that 45% of adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health, and 19% say it has had a major impact.

· The poll also found that 57 percent of adults said they are worried they could be exposed to the virus because they can’t afford to miss work and can’t stay home.

· The rates are slightly higher among women, Hispanic adults and black adults, the survey found.

· Additionally, the federal Disaster Distress Helpline received approximately 7,000 calls and 19,000 text messages in March – more than eight times as many as the month before.

· Most of us have never experienced anything like this so the anxiety is being driven by collective uncertainty over what will happen.


What are some steps people can take to ease their anxiety?

· Take a media break – we are bombarded with media coverage about this crisis. If you want to stay up-to-date, use trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

· Wash your hands frequently – I know everyone keeps hearing that over and over, but it is something that will actually lower your risk of getting sick.

· Practice good self-care – Get plenty of nutrients by eating fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

· Go for a walk outside – Time spent in nature is soothing for the mind and body. It’s spring and the weather is starting to get nicer. You can safely spend time in the fresh air as long as you practice social distancing.

· Write down your fears – The act of writing them down and stepping away from them can really help you both crystallize your concerns and leave them behind.

· If you need to talk with someone about your anxiety, there are toll-free resources:

o The Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990.

o The National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine at 800-950-6264.


Why is this situation particularly difficult for Michigan Works! staff?

· While the Michigan Works! service centers across the state are not open to the public right now, Michigan Works! staff are assisting customers via telephone and email.

· They have seen a huge uptick in phone calls due to the increased number of people who are collecting unemployment.

· At this time, the majority of the questions they are receiving are related to unemployment.

· Because the customers who are calling are frustrated and/or scared, they can sometimes be angry during these conversations.

· The combination of the increased number of calls, the intensity of the people on the phone calls and the crisis itself is putting incredible stress on the Michigan Works! staff.

What is the Michigan Works! Association doing to assist its members with stress during this crisis?

· The Michigan Works! Association recognized the need to provide stress relief assistance to our members and came up with a series of FREE webinars we are calling “Feel Good Fridays.”

· These free webinars are taking place on three consecutive Fridays in May –  May 8, May 15, and May 22.

· The May 8 webinar will focus on conversations during a crisis using empathy and communication techniques. (Please note the morning session for May 8th is FULL)

o This webinar will equip front-line Michigan Works! staff with communication strategies focused on fostering effective, positive communication with customers in crisis.

o The techniques shared during this webinar will help participants handle charged conversations with confidence and empathy.

· The May 15 webinar will focus on keeping calm and de-escalating customers during a crisis.

o This webinar will provide front-line Michigan Works! staff with tried and true strategies for de-escalating frustrated customers via a four-step process.

o The process meets the customer where they are at, while at the same time empowering staff to guide the conversation to a place of calm, cooperative problem solving.

· The May 22 webinar will focus on managing stress and safeguarding mental health during a pandemic.

o This webinar will address the very real threats of burnout and vicarious trauma that front-line staff are facing and offers tools and coaching for self-care.

o A wide range of self-care strategies to manage stress and promote mental health will be discussed and participants will create a self-care plan of action.

Any last words of encouragement for our listeners?

· I strongly encourage our members to take advantage of these free webinars.

· I want Michiganders to know Michigan Works! is here to assist them during this increased time of need even though we can’t meet with you face to face right now.

· And, once we get past this crisis, as the economy recovers, Michigan Works! will be here to assist Michiganders with their job search and training needs.

· Michigan Works! is always here for our customers – in good times and in bad.

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Michigan Business Beat, hosted by Chris Holman, discusses economic development, new or unusual entrepreneurial initiatives, and successful business practices from different regions and industries around Michigan with a wide range of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

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