Healthcare, social workers and other frontline workers are exhausted – in fact social workers are likely to burn out just eight years into their careers. The Covid-19 pandemic made us more aware than ever of our frontline workers and how much they do to care and protect people. Yet, clinical psychologist, Dzifa Afonu, explains that even if frontline workers give everything in their power, the systems within which they operate are broken. Our health and care systems fail to successfully care for both vulnerable people and frontline workers. In fact, our models of care are based on strict boundaries between the helper and the helped – these models, Dzifa points out, are simply not true. Instead, Dzifa proposes a new model of care that recognises how human beings are profoundly interdependent species where learning to give and accept help may finally start ending burnout culture.
Dzifa is a clinical psychologist and is currently based in the children and adolescent mental health service. They have over 9 years experience working in the NHS and over 20 years of experience working in the charity sector with marginalised people. They are passionate about supporting frontline workers and their mental health. Their approach to their work incorporates and champions decolonial and healing justice values, which centres both personal and collective self-care. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Dzifa Afonu

Clinical psychologist (they/them)

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