Staying mentally sane – supporting EC Professionals during and after lockdown

Budapest – An online workshop series for early childhood educators working with Roma and poor children was launched in April and in June, in response to the struggle during and after the lockdown in Hungary. The main focus of the workshops was how to function and keep mentally healthy during and after COVID-19, and how to maintain Roma and poor children mentally stable. The success of the first event called for a repetition in June, and a recorded online webinar collection available for REYN members any time for the future.

The event was supposed to be an offline workshop day followed by a round-table, but after the first shock at COVID-19 the organizers realized this is a time when they have to focus on the situation and the mental wellbeing of the EC workforce. During the lockdown EC professionals had no professional support, no supervision and at the same time extreme workload that made them very extremely tired and burned out.

There was an amazing energy coming from the trainers, and immediately respond to the need of participants. In a few weeks, new and innovative workshops were born, like “Helping Roma parents in need during the times of trauma.” “Using Persona Doll to work on COVID-19 related fears with children” or “Change management for EC workforce.” The same energy arrived from participants, thriving for a day of “relax” and mental support during the very hard days of the lockdown.

As it was predicted, a never seen number, more than 50 applicants were registered to the online event. For many of the members this was the first Zoom event in their life, and organizers made time available for learning Zoom, for being together in a virtual “café” and gave plenty of space for small talks in between the workshops. There were many moments of revelation and community, belonging to a professional network meant a lot to REYN members during these times.

The next innovative step was to repeat the workshops, record it, and make it available for other professionals in the future. This was again, a new milestone in the life of REYN, starting to build a collection of videos and webinars.

To give a switch to the story, trainers realized that they also need mental support, being able to support REYN members. They had to develop new content, while simultaneously learn a new online platform, and also to support REYN members online, a very unusual situation for many. So trainers decided to have a small support circle, helping each other, so they can support the participants. In this was, supporting loops were developed, that made the day so special.

There is a proverb in Hungarian “You know your friends in trouble.” This was more than true for REYN community, during the troubled times. Hope this will not repeat itself, but in case of a second wave, we already know where to start.  

Read more about REYN Hungary

By Zsuzsa Laszlo, REYN at Partners Hungary Foundation