• Fears of compassion magnify the harmful effects of threat of COVID-19 on mental health and social safeness across 21 countries

      Matos, Marcela; McEwan, Kirsten; Basran, Jaskaran; Gilbert, Paul; University of Derby (Wiley, 2021-04-20)
      The COVID-19 pandemic is a massive global health crisis with damaging consequences to mental health and social relationships. Exploring factors that may heighten or buffer the risk of mental health problems in this context is thus critical. Whilst compassion may be a protective factor, in contrast fears of compassion increase vulnerability to psychosocial distress and may amplify the impact of the pandemic on mental health. This study explores the magnifying effects of fears of compassion on the impact of perceived threat of COVID-19 on depression, anxiety and stress, and social safeness. Adult participants from the general population (N = 4057) were recruited across 21 countries worldwide, and completed self-report measures of perceived threat of COVID-19, fears of compassion (for self, from others, for others), depression, anxiety, stress and social safeness. Perceived threat of COVID-19 predicted increased depression, anxiety and stress. The three flows of fears of compassion predicted higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress and lower social safeness. All fears of compassion moderated (heightened) the impact of perceived threat of COVID-19 on psychological distress. Only fears of compassion from others moderated the effects of likelihood of contracting COVID-19 on social safeness. These effects were consistent across all countries. Fears of compassion have a universal magnifying effect on the damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and social safeness. Compassion focused interventions and communications could be implemented to reduce resistances to compassion and promote mental wellbeing during and following the pandemic.
    • The schwartz center rounds: supporting mental health workers with the emotional impact of their work.

      Allen, Deborah; Spencer, Graham; McEwan, Kirsten; Catarino, Francisca; Evans, Rachael; Crooks, Sarah; Gilbert, Paul; University Hospitals Derby & Burton NHS; Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; University of Derby (Wiley, 2020-05-15)
      In healthcare settings there is an emotional cost to caring which can result in compassion-fatigue, burnout, secondary trauma and compromised patient care. Innovative workplace interventions such as the Schwartz Rounds offer a group reflective practice forum for clinical and non-clinical professionals to reflect on the emotional aspects of working in healthcare. Whilst the Rounds are established in medical health practice, this study presents an evaluation of the Rounds offered to mental health services. The Rounds were piloted amongst 150 mental health professionals for 6 months and evaluated using a mixed-methods approach with standardised evaluation forms completed after each Round and a focus group (n=9) at one-month follow-up. This paper also offers a unique six-year follow-up of the evaluation of the Rounds. Rounds were rated as helpful, insightful, relevant and at six years follow-up Rounds were still rated as valuable and viewed as embedded. Focus groups indicated that Rounds were valued because of the opportunity to express emotions (in particular negative emotions towards patients that conflict with the professional care-role), share experiences, and feel validated and supported by colleagues. The findings indicate that Schwartz Rounds offer a positive application in mental healthcare settings. The study supports the use of interventions which provide an ongoing forum in which to discuss emotions, develop emotional literacy, provide peer-support and set an intention for becoming a more compassionate organisation in which to work.
    • Searching compassion in a crowd: Evaluation of a novel compassion visual search task to reduce self-criticism

      McEwan, Kirsten; Dandeneau, Stephane; Gilbert, Paul; Maratos, Frances; Andrew, Lucy; Chotai, Shivani; Elander, James; University of Derby (ECronicon Open Access, 2019-04-15)
      Background: The ability to appropriately process social stimuli such as facial expressions is crucial to emotion regulation and the maintenance of supportive interpersonal relationships. Cognitive Bias Modification Tasks (CBMTs) are being investigated as potential interventions for those who struggle to appropriately process social stimuli. Aims: Two studies aimed to assess the effectiveness of a novel computerised ‘Compassion Game’ CBMT compared with a validated ‘Self-Esteem Game’ (Study 1, n=66) and a Neutral Control Game (Study 2, n=59). Method: In each study, baseline, post-task, and one-month follow-up measures of 3 self-reported forms of self-criticism (inadequate self, hated self, and self-reassurance) were used to examine the benefits of two weeks’ attentional training. Results: Analyses show that the novel Compassion Game significantly reduced inadequate self-criticism at post and one-month follow-up (Studies 1 and 2) and increased self-reassurance (Study 1). Results also show that the Self-Esteem (Study 1) and the Neutral Control Game (Study 2), which also used social stimuli, produced reductions in inadequate self-criticism. Conclusions: Results suggest that training one’s attention toward social stimuli can improve inadequate self-criticism. Implications for the use of compassionate stimuli in such CBMTs are discussed.