Community Bulletin: Stress Management for Practitioners

From the Editor

Dear Community Partners and Friends, 

We find ourselves at the tail end of Mental Health Awareness Month during a year when things are constantly changing and demand our full attention. In this month alone, our field has advocated for increased funding for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and stopping changes in the Farm Bill that could prevent families from putting food on the table. As a social worker, I’m often in discussions about self-care and how it can be essential to help us stay motivated and keep going when things seem overwhelming—whether it’s taking time to finally read that book, grabbing coffee with a friend who brings you joy, or allowing yourself time to pause and reflect on why you do this work.

While practicing self-care, I recall Brené Brown, a professor and researcher whose class I was fortunate enough to attend as a student in Houston. Her wisdom changed the way I approach work and life. Here are a couple quotes from her that have stayed with me that I think you might find inspiring too:

“Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little braver and the world a little better.”

“Wholeheartedness. There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.” 

May is also recognized as National Community Action Month. Check out our partners Community Action Partnership to learn more. And if you have any items you’d like to see featured in future Community Bulletins, share them with us at Community@prosperitynow.org.  

Sending you well wishes,

Fran Rosebush Baylor, MSW & MBA

Director of Field Engagement, Prosperity Now


Spotlights: Mental Health Month

Stress Management for Practitioners

Stress is one of the most common mental health concerns in the US. The American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America survey found that money is one of the leading sources of stress in the country (62%), second only to stress about the future of the nation (63%). During Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re reflecting on the significant impacts stress can have on both physical and mental health—affecting our lives at home, at school and work. Practitioners can benefit from being aware of stress, not only to better care for clients, but also to recognize the signs of stress in our own lives.

Self-care is key! Here are some stress management tips for financial capability practitioners from the Prosperity Now Community and staff.

Rachel Houston, Financial Stability Partnership Director at United Way of the River Cities, believes the best form of stress management she can use when running her VITA site is stress prevention:

  • Don't bite off more than you can chew
    • "When a site is overwhelmed, it becomes a stressful environment. Stressed out volunteers make mistakes and I would rather do fewer returns with fewer rejections. I talk with my volunteers regularly and find ways to prevent problems before they arise.  This year I extended the time per client at a couple of sites, reduced overall appointment numbers and shifted those clients elsewhere."
  • Planning, planning, planning
    • "I know well in advance who is volunteering, how many clients we are expecting and what gaps need to be filled. We have seven sites that are all open one day a week. So, coordinating seven locations with 50 volunteers that move around day to day from site to site takes planning and communication. I am the link between site coordinators, volunteers and clients. Having one point of contact makes life easier for everyone and prevents stressful situations."
  • Learn to say “no”
    • "I can’t be all things to all people all of the time. I have learned that saying no is difficult, but needed. This year I had to fire a couple of volunteers. That was a stressful experience, but it was one stressful event instead of an entire season spent with a toxic volunteer and her hapless husband. My sanity isn’t worth the price of their service. This goes for problem clients too. Just say no."

Jessika Lopez, Program Manager with the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now, relieves stress through the power of a playlist.

  • "Listening to music makes me happy and has always been an outlet for my anxiety. Between today’s political climate, work pressure and even normal everyday stresses, some days, I’m just over it. But then I listen to a playlist or album on my headphones and I’m able to block out the noise. I feel like I can take on the day. Listening to music won’t fix the world’s problems but it gives me what I need to keep trying."

Other Tips from the Prosperity Now Community:

  • Take time to recharge—make sure to schedule “me time."
  • Talk or write it out. When something is bothering you, find a positive way to release it.
  • Have lunch away from your desk. No distractions. Escape, relax and enjoy your lunch

What’s your tip for stress management? Let us know at community@prosperitynow.org!

Health/Wealth Connection: How Financial Stress Impacts Mental Health

An area of growing research and practice within financial capability is the connection between health and wealth. Mental health and financial wellbeing share strong correlations. Financial stress can lead to or exacerbate depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Conversely, depression, trauma and other mental health challenges can impair an individual’s ability to achieve income stability, manage debt or plan for the future. 

Many programs serving low- and moderate-income communities work with clients facing chronic stress and mental health concerns. Traumatic stress, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and adverse community experiences can have enduring impacts on the lives of those impacted by violence, poverty, and discrimination. Learn more about ACEs and how to develop trauma-informed approaches to help your clients cultivate resilience and reach for their financial goals.

2018 Field Survey and Contest

It’s that time of year again! The 2018 Prosperity Now Community Survey is open for your feedback. This annual survey helps us learn more about the composition, priorities and needs of Prosperity Now Community members so that we can better support you with the resources and opportunities you value most. This year, we’ve added something sweet to the pot: Everyone who completes the survey by June 1 (tomorrow!) will be entered to win complimentary registration and hotel stay for the 2018 Prosperity Summit! Please complete the survey by June 1, 2018—and share the opportunity with your networks.

2018 Summer Advocacy Contest

The good times keep coming! Join Prosperity Now’s Get Engaged Summer Advocacy Contest for another chance to win a free registration to the 2018 Prosperity Summit. To participate, simply register with your organization or coalition at the Advocacy Center and take any of our federal policy actions from now until midnight EDT on Monday, July 2. Rally your colleagues and volunteers today to increase your organization’s chances to win! 

Submit your Lightning Talk Ideas for the Prosperity Summit

We’re excited to announce a new experience for the Prosperity Summit: Lightning Talks! This year, we’re looking for dynamic talks that showcase innovations, research findings or trends in policy or practice in an engaging way. The submission deadline is 11:59PM EDT, June 6, 2018. Lightning Talk presenters receive complementary registration for the Prosperity Summit, so be sure to share your big idea today! 
 

Featured Resources

Video Series: Trauma-Informed Practice & Resilience Brown Bag Webinar Series, Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities

Resource: Trauma-Informed Community Building and Engagement, Urban Institute

Resource: How to Manage and Reduce Stress, Mental Health Foundation (UK)

Resource: Financial Coaching and Financial Therapy: Differences and Boundaries, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
 

Events, Opportunities & Webinars

Opportunity: 2018 Community Survey Competition, Prosperity Now, June 1, 2018

Job Posting: Director of Community Services, Community Action Council, Lexington, KY

Job Posting: Business Systems Engineer, Operations/IT, Prosperity Now, Washington, DC

Event: Welcoming Interactive + Welcoming Economies Convening, Welcoming America, Louisville, KY, June 18-20, 2018

Event: 2018 Credit Building Symposium, Credit Builders Alliance, Washington, DC, June 28-29, 2018

Opportunity: 2018 Disability Ambassador Scholarship to the 2018 Prosperity Summit,  World Institute on Disability and JPMorgan Chase, Deadline: July 6, 2018

Event: UnidosUS 2018 Annual Conference, Washington, DC, July 7-10, 2018

Event: Community Action Partnership Annual Convention, Denver, CO, August 28-31, 2018

Event: 2018 Prosperity Summit, Prosperity Now, National Harbor, MD, September 5-7, 2018, Earlybird Deadline: June 8, 2018

Policy Developments

Federal Policies

CSA Opportunity Act

Earlier this month, Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17) and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA-15) reintroduced the Children's Savings Accounts (CSA) Opportunity Act, or H.R. 5738. For more information on the bill, please read our blog post.

VITA

Last week, the first draft of the House funding bill was released and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) received $15 million in funding for fiscal year 2019. We’re calling on Congress to double VITA funding to $30 million. With the new tax law taking effect and increasing demands, low-income tax payers will need more support than ever next year. If you haven’t already done so, please ask your Representative to fund VITA at $30 million.  

Consumer Protections

Good news for consumers! Earlier this month, the deadline passed for Congress to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) payday lending rule. This is huge, and a testament to the tireless efforts of advocates across the country. The rule serves as a blow to predatory small dollar lenders, as it requires lenders to consider a borrower’s ability to re-pay before issuing a loan. Despite this victory, there’s still work to do. The CFPB Acting Director, Mick Mulvaney, has announced his intentions to make changes to the rule. We’ll continue to fight for the payday rule to stand as is, and encourage you to join our Consumer Protections campaign if you haven’t already.

The Senate banking bill, S. 2155, recently passed the House and is expected to be signed into law soon. This bill rolls back many of the Dodd-Frank fair lending provisions designed to protect consumers. This is the first in a series of upcoming attacks against fair lending that we’re prepared to fight. Read our full statement on the passage of S. 2155. 

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