Doctors and nurses, just like everyone else are vulnerable to mental health illnesses and need mental health support.
Medical professionals experiencing emotional and psychological health problems often find significant barriers to seeking help, particularly when their sole duty is to care for others.
The Covid 19 pandemic has meant medical professionals are working well beyond the call of duty; dealing with life and death decisions for extended periods of time and putting their own lives at risk, too. As a result, both their physical and mental health are at significant risk of being negatively impacted.
However, the damage the pandemic is inflicting goes far beyond the personal wellbeing of medical professionals fighting on the frontlines. The lives of doctors and nurses run the risk of being forever scarred by the experiences they’re currently enduring; with their personal relationships, family lives and quality of life all suffering as a result.
Clearly, this level of damage is simply unsustainable – or fair, for that matter. So, it’s vital that we try and protect both our own mental health and the mental health of our colleagues by creating a supportive, friendly environment for everyone to work in.
If you’ve noticed that a colleague or friend is feeling down, or perhaps they’re not acting themselves, we want to share three tips that can offer vital mental health support:
1. Choose a Safe and Comfortable Time and a Place
There‘s a time and a place for everything; so, when it comes to talking with a colleague about their mental health, it means that you must do so in an environment that is both safe and comfortable for them.
It’s important to not do so when either of you needs to rush off. Perhaps you could arrange a time for a longer chat outside of work? Try to arrange a time where you know there’ll be no outside distractions and where you can devote your full attention to them, without the risk of a bleeper going off or needing to tend to a patient.
2. Be an Active Listener
Listening is an essential part of any good relationship and ‘Active Listening’ is a term for a range of techniques that keeps us present and engaged in a conversation. When you’re meeting with your colleague, try and consider the following techniques:
- Have and maintain regular eye contact
- Have open arms and face them when in conversation
- Acknowledge what they’re saying with appropriate nods and gestures
- When the conversation ends, recap what you’ve discussed and discuss the next steps
- Have some information to hand to pass on straight away
Remember to manage your own feelings during the conversation:
It may be hard or difficult to hear upsetting things; however, it’s important to prioritise their feelings in this scenario by not showing any signs or surprise or judgement. You want to reassure your colleague that it’s okay to speak to you and you will respect their emotions and decisions.
You might immediately might want to start suggesting solutions to problems, but remember to ask them what they would like to happen. In some cases, it may just be that they needed the opportunity to vent their frustrations and pent-up emotions.
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3. Respect Confidentiality
When providing any form of mental health support, it’s important to create an open and supportive environment, where people feel confident to talk about their mental health should they wish to. However, it’s vital to remember that mental health information is confidential and sensitive. Don’t pass the information on unnecessarily as this will be a breach of trust and it could further negatively impact upon their mental health.
If you think they may require more support than just yourself, you could perhaps ask them if they would like you to pass the information on or organise a time for them to speak to a charity helpline.
For a full list of mental health charities who can offer confidential, professional support and advice, just click here.
What mental health support do ID Medical Offer?
Our telephone wellbeing service
Our incredible NHS would be nothing without its’ outstanding and devoted staff. We understand that many of you face incredibly challenging and often distressing situations on a daily basis. We owe it to you to help provide the mental heath support and physical health support that you need to deliver consistently high-quality care for patients.
We’ve therefore launched our ID Medical mental health hotline, available 24/7.
We believe that no doctor, nurse or allied healthcare professional should shy away from seeking help and often a friend or family might not be the right person to listen. We can assure you 100% confidentiality and a friendly yet professional chat, providing you with the essential opportunity to share and unload.
Our Peer-to-Peer Network
After speaking with us, you may feel that you will benefit from sharing your experiences with like-minded people in similar circumstances – which is why we have set up our Peer-to-Peer Network.
Belongingness is a basic human need and it’s important to feel that we have a support system and community to belong to. ID Medical can connect you with other healthcare professionals across the country, providing you with the opportunity to connect, share and find comfort during this difficult time.
We can all feel lonely at times, so we think connecting you with a peer who has been in similar circumstances and experienced the same challenges, will help raise your self-confidence and self-esteem.