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Happy International Day of the Midwife! #internationaldayofmidwife Conferences & Media coverage galore!

Ok, so today is , and I hope that my PhD research will go on to benefit all midwives and ultimately, women and their babies. It is indeed a time to celebrate.

So how did I celebrate??

Well this bank holiday weekend (May 2nd), I shared my work at the Virtual International Day of the Midwife Conference @VIDofM (). Coverage of this event quickly became widespread, and I certainly met some passionate midwives wanting to make a difference and follow my research – Thank you all for your amazing comments, feedback & support!

If you missed my presentation, you can watch the recorded webinar by clicking HERE – This presentation should also be on YouTube soon.

And so… as word spread, I was asked by Think: Health 2SER – Real Radio 107.3 FM to speak about my project and my presentation at the #ViDoM conference on their health show in Sydney, Australia.

You can listen to my interview HERE – The Full show can be heard HERE

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my work!

Sally Pezaro on Think Health 2SER Real Radio 107.3 FM

Sally Pezaro on Think Health 2SER Real Radio 107.3 FM

Midwives deserve every recognition for the amazing work that they do. They give everything they can because they care and want to make a difference. They put women and their families first, and sometimes forget to care for themselves and each other (Mensah et al, 2015).

So today is a great day to hug a midwife and celebrate their worth and value to the world.

Happy  !!!

Mensah, S. B., & Anderson, J. G. (2015). Barriers and facilitators of the use of mind-body therapies by healthcare providers and clinicians to care for themselves. Complementary therapies in clinical practice.

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Hospital Staff Absences for Mental Health Reasons Double – but do the Figures Add Up?

Today I was up early to watch Danny Mortimer NHSE_Danny (Chief Executive Employers) Speak on BBC Breakfast in light of new figures obtained via a Freedom of Information Act Request, that Hospital staff absences for mental health reasons has doubled across England in the last 4 years!

This information is obviously very relevant to my PhD study, and I will be reviewing it in time. However, the initial response that Danny Mortimer gave was that  staff feel comfortable talking about their . Hmm…

Has all of my research to date been wrong? Are #NHS staff comfortable talking freely about their mental ill health? (would love to hear your thoughts, but ironically you may feel unable to speak out – I tell myself this is the reason for a lack of comments on, and interactions with my blog all of the time :P)

Anyway, as you can imagine, I became worried that I was ‘missing something’ and asked Danny if he had any evidence for this? – See our conversation here

As you can see, he did not provide me with evidence for this statement, but agreed that we all need to do more to support our colleagues, and I know that we all share the same constructive goals. Unfortunately people don’t always have an answer, they just know that something needs to be done. I still believe that my PhD research could be the key to effective support, but this project is in its infancy and I will keep the readers of this blog as updated upon its progress as I am able.

So… the evidence provided by NHS Employers upon the mental health & well being of NHS staff is this:

MentalHealth Infographic WEB FINAL

A great infographic! However, one thing concerns me…. Apparently 76% of NHS trusts report that they monitor the well being of their staff (RCP, London). Yet 3 out of 4 people suffering from mental illness get NO TREATMENT AT ALL. (www.mentalhealth.org). So, are NHS trusts doing anything about the staff they find to be unwell? or are NHS staff fine? I think not. I worry that there is a lot of good rhetoric out there around NHS staff health and wellbeing, but not many interventions to support staff. The figures don’t add up, and seemingly only smarties have the answer.

I hope I have the answer coming… I hope its not too late.

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/fundamental_facts_2007.pdf?view=Standard

http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/resources/nice-public-health-guidance-workplace-organisational-audit’

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The Founders Network – The Birth of Creating a healthier NHS

The Founders Network was founded in July 2014 on the initiative of Clare Gerada, Lambeth GP, Medical Director NHS Practitioner Health Programme, and Rex Haigh Medical Psychotherapist and Institute of Group Analysis Board Member. I am a proud member of this network and I can see it growing from strength to strength.

The collective network recognizes that there are serious problems with working life in the NHS and these must be urgently addressed if the NHS is to have a secure future. This sentiment provides the basis for my PhD work, and I am extremely grateful to Clare Gerada for advising me on my project as it moves forward. The infamous paper compiled by Clare introduces the succinct notion that “If the NHS were a patient, it would have Depression” and as such, we have much work to do in order to ‘fix’ this.

It became apparent that action was needed. A series of active listening events collectively named as the Creating a healthier NHS project, facilitated by the Founders Network and the Institute of Group Analysis were arranged as a platform to hear NHS staff and explore solutions to remedy the toxic cultures within the health care system. I attended three of these listening events and as a result, have met many inspiring people with illuminating stories to tell!

The most poignant idea that stemmed from these for me personally was this:

(I have added some extra thoughts to this!)

  • The NHS is the burnt out and overworked mother of the nation, her internal struggles are endless.
  • She is not kind to herself.
  • The father of the nation is our government.
  • Father may well want a divorce, but the alimony payments would be too high to bare.
  • Mother is having to care for more and more children with more complex needs, but with less resources. She is constantly adjusting her purse strings, but someone always loses out.
  • The father is frustrated and entertaining a mistress (Privatization) – shes alluring and dangerous, so he keeps quiet about her.
  • The children continue to tug at mothers apron strings, demanding more and more.
  • There is only so much more mother can take before she breaks. SHE is the one who needs to be cared for.

And that is why I feel passionate about this drive to value NHS staff. They need to be cared for if the patient is to receive quality care. Staff may not be very good at caring for themselves, and therefore it is imperative that we keep this conversation going, take action via the Founders Network and move towards appointing a national lead for NHS staff health and wellbeing. Please consider joining this network if you feel able to.

Here are some of the videos from the listening events if you could not attend, I will share the outcome of these listening events as soon as they become available to me and open to public viewing.

If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed within this post, please visit the support page.

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#mybluelight Campaign

Today, Mind Charity published its Blue Light Campaign to provide mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue services across England.

One quarter of a million people who work and volunteer in the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the general population, but are less likely to get support.

As usual, they found that it was stigma that was the biggest issue in staff seeking help. Stigma truly is the real killer, and I will be writing a blog on it soon. The campaign will do the following to help our emergency services:

  • An anti-stigma campaign, working together with Time to Change, and guidance for employers to improve the way they support their staff
  • A bespoke mental health training package for managers as well as frontline staff and volunteers across the emergency services
  • A pilot approach to build the mental health resilience of emergency services staff and volunteers
  • An information helpline and resources just for emergency service staff and volunteers, and their families.

The support will be available from April 2015 and the Blue Light Programme will run until March 2016. It is being developed in consultation with individuals from across the emergency services.

The Twitter hashtag for this campaign will be #mybluelight

It is so refreshing to see this issue (which as you know I feel super passionate about) being addressed. Although I hope this project will extend to all health workers who may all at some point be exposed to the same psychological traumas. A great perspective on other Blue Light professions is given by The Mental Health Cop who was also part of the advisory board for this campaign.

Although this work is amazing, it also involves empowering staff with resilience, and this concept concerns me. It may suggest that there are some who can cope and others who are weak. It may imply that if you have resilience, then you will not be affected. In other areas of work based psychological distress, you shouldn’t have to be resilient. For instance to bullies, blame and scapegoating cultures, it should just stop. We will always be affected by traumatic incidents, and I know that this anti stigma campaign and valuable resource guidance will improve the mental health and well being of NHS Staff.

Why not ask your NHS Trust to sign the Blue Light Time to Change pledge and develop an action plan. Commit to support better mental health in your workplace – get in touch with Mind and give your name, job title, the service you work for and your contact details.

Email bluelight@mind.org.uk with your name, organisation and contact details and Mind will send you updates on the programme.

If you have been affected by anything discussed within this post please see the support page on this blog.