Taking care of others is at the heart of every healthcare professional’s responsibilities. However, many of you don’t make time to prioritise your wellbeing and take care of your own mental health. Over the past couple of years, healthcare workers have been put in unprecedented situations, having to make incredibly difficult clinical decisions and work under immense pressures.
If you feel overwhelmed, it is important to seek support. Talk to your colleagues, manager, family, or someone you trust about how you are feeling. You are not alone. Your colleagues are likely experiencing similar emotions and you can support each other through this.
Be compassionate and kind to yourself and others and remember, it’s OK not to be OK.
Practical tips to implement
Here are 5 practical tips on how to prioritise your mental wellbeing:
- Take care of your basic needs. Ensure you get enough rest and respite during work and, most importantly, between shifts.
- Eat sufficient and healthy food (although it’s perfectly fine to treat yourself every so often!). I personally have an emergency tub of Haagen-Dazs in the bottom of my freezer – for emergencies only of course..!
- Engage in physical activity. You don’t need to run a marathon (although kudos to you if you can!), but exercise improves mood. Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals and leaves you feeling happier and more relaxed. This provides an emotional lift and reduces stress, which can be especially helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. So grab your trainers and go for a walk, or stick on your favourite song and dance like no one’s watching!
- Laughter. It may not be on your usual self-care list but laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing helps to reduce inflammation and stress hormones, improve circulation, and enhance the immune system. Watch a funny movie, have a giggle with your friends and laugh those worries away.
- Stay in contact with family and friends. This is so important. A common theme in this pandemic has been isolation. If you find yourself needing to isolate, keep in regular communication with people and arrange a face-to-face catch up when you can.
There are also lots of support services and resources that you can access when you are ready to prioritise your wellbeing.
Support services and resources
The Cavell Nurses Trust
Assists nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants suffering personal or financial hardship. You can call Cavell on 01527 595 999.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN)
Offers a free counselling service for members. To access this counselling, call 0345 722 6100. The RCN also offers a specific trauma counselling service (0345 722 6100). This is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Republic of Ireland
The INMO ‘Let’s talk about it’ digital hub
Online resources including webinars and information on mental health support (from one-to-one counselling to self-directed courses on building resilience and managing stress).
The HSE Staff Wellbeing Hub
A hub for healthcare workers to support them with their mental health.
The National Wellbeing Hub
Offers resources to assist you in managing stress and anxiety. They have a lot of free apps that you can download here, this includes:
- Feeling Good, a free audio programme that combines relaxation with sports coaching to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and improve sleep)
- Sleepio, an evidence-based sleep improvement programme
- Daylight, a science-backed anxiety improvement programme which can help control feelings of worry and anxiety
- Silvercloud, a structured programme based on CBT that focuses on supporting your wellbeing, including managing your mental health, resilience, stress and sleep
- Living Life to the Full, free online courses covering low mood, stress and resilience
NHS24 has created a mental health helpline for all health and social care workers. This is available 24/7 on 0800 111 4191
The Scottish Association for Mental Health
A dedicated helpline which is available Monday-Friday 09.00-18.00 on 0344 800 0500
Has implemented psychological helplines for all health and social care workers for each trust with opening hours of Monday-Friday 09.00-17.00. Please see the contact numbers below:
- Northern Trust: 028 9441 3644
- South Eastern Trust: 02892 501 332
- Southern Trust: 028 3756 2600
- Western Trust: 028 7161 1281
- Belfast Trust: 028 9615 1888
The Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. Lifeline counsellors are available 24/7 to listen and help on 0808 808 8000.