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#BringBackTheNHS Event – London 2015

So, yesterday I toddled on down to Westminster to attend the #BringBackTheNHS event and see what it was all about. The event was filled with great speakers, including some famous ones like: @IanMcKellen @charlottechurch and @marcuschown. This was set to be a ‘Non Political Event’ to celebrate the NHS. Nevertheless, there were some passionate words spoken.

I try not to get too political in my every day research, but it is so important that we all understand the healthcare climate in which we are working, living and healing. I also feel it is important for me to understand the continuously evolving health policies, rhetorics and visions if I am to contribute positively to the #mentalhealth and well being of Healthcare workers.

And so I came to learn about the The Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 (  ) currently championed by @AllysonPollock among many others!

In a nutshell: The Health and Social Care Act of 2012, forced a commercialised model upon the NHS in England.

This new Bill aims to reinstate the founding vision for the NHS (Freee at the point of use, regardless of a persons ability to pay). A worthwhile cause to become involved with.

However, throughout the event and in listening to the speakers share some powerful NHS stories, I personally was struck by the stories involving NHS Staff. I would just like to summarise the key things I took from the evening.

– The NHS Staff will carry on giving every part of themselves to the care of others.

-The NHS staff do not go to work for themselves, but for the service of others

– NHS Staff are bound to protect/defend/obey the mother of the nation (ie. The NHS) –  as the well being of their family, friends, mothers, aunties, children etc….depend upon it.

– Front line NHS staff see the true nature of life and death. Their eyes see what others cannot comprehend or identify with. They then go back to changing beds….

-They work hard, despite being underpaid (and arguably undervalued).

-They work unsociable hours, any time, anywhere.

– Where resources are strained, they make sure that people still get what they need.

– They are still willing to give more.

The cultures of our healthcare systems and staff clearly show that ‘to give all’ is not enough. They will always give more…..Yet in times of strain, change and challenging circumstances, how will this effect the mental wellbeing of healthcare staff?

Who puts healthcare staff first?

Who makes sure that they are cared for?

Worryingly, this ‘carry on regardless’ mentality may put our healthcare staff on an even higher pedestal to perform and deliver. Will this make it even harder for those in psychological distress to seek help?

Does this ideology accept failure? – Healthcare staff are good people. They will give their all. I just hope there is someone there for them if they fall.

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#GoodbyeHeadclutcher campaign significant for Health care professionals in psychological distress

Wow – I have been so impressed with the #GetThePicture campaign this week -> 

I felt that this would also be pertinent for those working within the #NHS who may be struggling with poor mental health. To me, the head in hands image that is used so widely within the media has connotations of those in distress being out of control and unable to manage their condition. Of course there may be times when those in need do hold their head in their hands, but their story will be much wider than this single portrayal of despair. Within the healthcare services, one of the biggest barriers to help seeking is the stigma, and self stigma associated with ‘not coping’ in the professional sense (Renton, 2014). The fear that a healthcare professional may be judged as being professionally as well as mentally unstable means that many health care professionals never seek help or do it after years of suffering (Clark, 1999, Laposa et al., 2003).

The leading reason given for non disclosure in health care professionals is that staff are concerned that the disclosure of mental ill health may negatively affect their careers (Dewa, 2014). With images in the media implying that those with mental ill health are constantly unable to cope and sat in despair, we may see rates of self stigma increase, and rates of help seeking decline. This will paradoxically put patients at risk of compromised care, and drive secrets underground (Moberly, 2014). We all would like to see those in need receive help and feel well. To do do this, they must be willing to seek and receive help. With this in mind, I would be pleased to see future images of those with mental health issues smiling, seeking help, talking and being a part of every day life.

Health care professionals in psychological distress are doing just this, smiling ‘coping’ and working in the #NHS. If we can normalise help seeking, rather than the stigma of not coping, we may be that much closer to healing the healer.

@TimetoChange has suggested the following things to end #Stigma in this area:

  • Picture editors – look for an image that is truly relevant to the story; think about mental health problems as you would when portraying other illnesses; avoid ‘headclutcher’ shots; be sensitive when illustrating stories about suicide and self-harm.
  • Members of the public – take a fun ‘headclutcher’ selfie, and tweet it with #GoodbyeHeadclutcher; if you see a picture you think stigmatises mental health problems in the media, contact that outlet directly, and tweet them with #GetThePicture.
  • Picture agencies – weed out ‘headclutchers’ and other stigmatising pictures from your image libraries; make sure your categories and keywords can help picture editors find appropriate images easily; commission your own range of positive images.
  • Photographers – think of new creative ways to portray mental health problems; use a diverse range of people; take more shots of people being listened to and supported by others.

#TimeToTalk #TimetoChange @TimetoChange

Clark, D. (1999) Anxiety disorders: why they persist and how to treat them. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37 (1999), pp. S5–S27

Dewa, C. (2014) Worker Attitudes towards Mental Health Problems and Disclosure. The international journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 2014, Vol.5 (4), pp.175-86

Laposa, J. M., & Alden, L. E. (2003) (1). Posttraumatic stress disorder in the emergency room: Exploration of a cognitive model. Behavior Research and Therapy, 41,49–65.

Moberly  , T (2014) GMC is “traumatising” unwell doctors and may be undermining patient safety, Gerada says, BMJ Careers. Available from http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/view-article.html?id=20017662 (Accessed 11.11.14)

Renton, T., Tang HEnnis NCusimano MDBhalerao SSchweizer TATopolovec-Vranic J. (2014) Web-based intervention programs for depression: a scoping review and evaluation. J Med Internet Res. 2014 Sep 23;16(9)