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In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold across the United States, the National Institute for Human Resilience (NIHR) created GRIT – Greater Resilience Intervention Teams. The purpose of GRIT is to train volunteers in the community to promote wellness and resilience support to fellow community members – friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances – in the wake of the stress caused by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and future disasters. The current pandemic can be viewed as a disaster for the community, the country, and the world. We know that in times of disaster, strengthening coping, spreading support, and providing resources can have a positive impact on healing and resilience for everyone. 
Through support in our community of El Paso County, CO, and those supporting our Institute, we have made GRIT Resilience Support Coach training free for anyone. The training is comprised of five one-hour long videos that have been recorded to allow for self-paced learning. The training provides foundational information on principles of disaster support, stress, resilience, and self-efficacy. Viewers then learn five steps to reaching out and making meaningful and helpful connections with members of their natural support networks. The training also provides information on referring to professional mental health services, making it clear that GRIT Coaches are not asked or expected to fill the role of a mental health or medical professional, as well as an emphasis on personal resilience and self-care. Viewers are also provided a workbook and information on a wide variety of resources, including healthy tips on building coping skills, helpful websites, and resilience-based apps to use themselves and share within their conversations. 
Once we launched our first GRIT training in April 2020, we quickly learned that there were some occupations and settings who could benefit from more specific training. Therefore, the NIHR created GRIT-4ED in May 2020, a GRIT training designed more specifically for individuals working in the education field. GRIT-4ED provides the same core information as the GRIT training, and discusses the concept of “3 Around Me.” This concept encourages individuals to create teams of at least three adults in the education community who can work together to support each other and collaborate to support students and families, with the understanding that the more watchful eyes that are on someone, the more likely it is to pick up signs up stress and provide support and resources. These teams can be comprised of any helpful adult, including teachers, administration, coaches, bus drivers, librarians, and more. 
We also knew that leaders and small business owners were experiencing a particularly difficult time in responding to COVID-19 and balancing needed safety measures with supporting employees and their organization. In June 2020, we created and launched GRIT-LEAD, another GRIT training focused on providing education and support to leaders in the community and small business owners. GRIT-LEAD provides education, training, and support to community leaders and small business owners who have had to adapt quickly to a virtual workforce. The training also gives strategies to leaders and small business owners around supporting employees, managing in a new environment, and how to assist their employees in the back-to-work transition. 
Through support from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the NIHR is currently working on creating GRIT-4HEALTH, a GRIT training aimed at providing support and resources towards healthcare workers. We understand that the strain on healthcare workers is particularly salient as the client load, danger, and stress in their jobs has skyrocketed  in response to COVID-19 and the inconsistent and unrelenting numbers of infected and hospitalized continues. GRIT-4HEALTH aims for the overarching goal of strengthening coping abilities, support networks, and resource availability in this targeted population and is expected to be available later this year. 
Since launching the first training in April 2020, over 1,030 individuals in 36 states and four countries to date have signed up for one or more of the three currently available programs. Information about GRIT training has been widely spread through word-of-mouth and shared within communities. Anyone can sign up for this training at https://letstalkgrit.com/ and the variety of individuals has been reflected in the occupations listed under the sign up form, including members of the military, CEOs, chaplains, state employees, members of non-profits organizations, teachers, nurses, human resources, students, and many more. We are incredibly proud at the NIHR to spread education and resilience to those around us and are hopeful that we will continue to become more resilient as a country and a world-wide community!

Discussion Questions

  • What does resilience mean to you?
  • Who in your own natural support network could benefit from a helpful conversation and/or resources?
  • What other types of resilience-based resources are available in your community?

About the Author

Nicole Weis,
 MA, LPC, LAC, is a clinical therapist and the Peer Support Program Manager at the National Institute for Human Resilience (NIHR)  in Colorado Springs, CO. As part of her role at the NIHR, Nicole runs the GRIT Resilience Support Coach training, works with the Colorado Springs Police Department and Veterans Trauma Court with the 4th Judicial District, and teaches a Trauma Training for Professionals Program. Nicole Weis can be contacted at nweis@uccs.edu.