When we witness intense human suffering on the scale that we have since Russia invaded Ukraine, destroying civil society and killing its citizens, it’s hard to know what to do. Nothing we do feels a sufficient response to the crisis. Impotent, overwhelmed and outraged are what clients have expressed feeling while still struggling with the realities of daily life, work and the pressures they face, which are no less difficult for the atrocities that are being committed elsewhere.

Contributors to BACP Workplace are usually therapists, but Emma Mitchell, who writes our lead article, Working with a chronic illness, isn’t, though she knows what it means to live with one. Emma makes a powerful case that to be of any use to the client, our profession needs an understanding of the psychology of this disabling condition as it’s clearly on the rise and impacting on the workforce. The number of people suffering from long COVID only makes her case all the more compelling.

I can usually sense when someone has a story that needs to be told and this was certainly the case when I was introduced to Ali Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of RCS Wales. It’s an extraordinary one that Ali tells in Hope growth and work in North Wales, which begins in one of the UK’s most disadvantaged regions for entrenched unemployment, and spans 15 years of hope and growth, which appear in the form of a team of staff providing bilingual services including counselling, wellbeing and support, to employees, small and medium employers (SMEs) and GP practices.

If you attended BACP’s Working with mental health in a changing landscape at work online event last year, I’m sure you’ll remember Steve May, who spoke on the power of story. Steve talks to me in My workplace about his work – I found his uplifting perspective a tonic for our times.

One of my simple pleasures is a leisurely visit to my bookshop, where last month I found Recovery – The Lost Art of Convalescence welcoming me as I walked through the door. It’s a gem of a book, written by GP, Dr Gavin Francis. I’ve already bought it for a friend in need of some wise, kind guidance, and have recommended it to clients who may benefit from this particular kind of medicine. I’m delighted that Dr Francis agreed to talk to me in Books.

I’m reminded that if our response to a crisis is so often a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, it’s clear why we need people skilled and trained who do know what to do when crisis strikes. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised to receive a text from a colleague just after the bombing started, to say that she had arrived in Poland as part of a team offering humanitarian support for families fleeing Ukraine.

We met some years ago at a memorable BACP conference called Prepared Not Scared: are you ready for a critical incident? The conference had a certain magic, with brilliant speakers, and was carefully planned by the BACP Workplace division. I tell this story because it transpires that it was this event that was the springboard for my colleague to retrain as a crisis responder and I know that she will have touched the lives of countless people in recent weeks. I can’t help but feel proud and touched that the BACP Workplace division, (which I’m a part of) created this event, and that the ripple effects of it are still being felt today.  

Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.