Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) can establish explicit, focused plans that support prevention of vicarious traumatization.
A self-care plan for MMRCs could include:
- Increase knowledge about vicarious trauma, its symptoms, and its causes through presentations to MMRC members and staff and distributing materials. MMRCs can invite individuals with expertise in vicarious trauma and its effects to visit, speak with your team, and facilitate a workshop or dialogue about vicarious trauma.
- Encourage MMRC members and staff to have a pre-review routine, such as exercise or movement, or positive affirmations such as, “I have empathy and compassion for the pain of others but today I am going to just understand and not feel the pain.”
- Support wellness by ensuring that MMRC members and staff feel valued, respected, competent, connected and able to openly share in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Identify methods of managing and preventing vicarious trauma during MMRC meetings and deliberations (more details below)
During meetings and deliberations MMRCs can:
- Open the meeting with a minute or two of silence to ground and calm the MMRC members, or spend time sharing acknowledgements of the life of the person who died and gratitude for the abstractor and others who have contributed to the case summary
- Include an action item on each meeting agenda for responding to the stress of the reviews, including encouraging MMRC members to physically and emotionally care for themselves using self-care strategies. Encourage the use of strategies to disrupt vicarious trauma from visual images, such as graphs that demonstrate a precipitous decline in vital signs or lab values within an individual case or that demonstrate unjust racial disparities across cases. Research has demonstrated that partially covering your eyes or even one eye when viewing something stressful can reduce the impact of visual stimuli. Leave time at the end of each meeting to check in with the members about what they are feeling, and perhaps include a sharing of gratitude from each member
- Encourage the disruption of memory formation after viewing or reading traumatizing information. For example, playing video games or watching YouTube music videos soon after viewing traumatic material has been shown to reduce the number of flashbacks to material. MMRCs should encourage members to plan activities that bring a sense of fulfillment and happiness following the meeting. Below are videos and resources MMRCs and their members and staff can use to manage vicarious trauma and prioritize self-care:
Use butterfly tapping as a soothing and relaxation technique for balance and relief of anxiety.
Shaking and Rotating
Learn how to relieve tension through movement and breathing exercises.
Body Awareness Meditation
Focus on your body position and energy to bring awareness to feelings of stress and vicarious trauma.
Deep Breathing Meditation
Promote relaxation and the release of stress with a breathing exercise.