Mental resilience – why prioritising yourself is essential to supporting your patients

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The Royal College of Psychiatrists announced that the UK is in 'the grip of a mental health crisis' at the start of April, when it revealed a UK-wide analysis of mental health services of the past year, within the pandemic.

'The extent of the mental health crisis is terrifying'

Dr Adrian James, president, The Royal College of Psychiatrists

We know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on our mental health as a nation, and this data across the UK as a whole is staggering. However, what of the mental health of the healthcare practitioners, social workers and carers who have been at the frontline of often overwhelmed services for more than a year?

A recent Parkinson's MasterClass delegate looked at the impact of deaths due to COVID-19 on her Parkinson's caseload - and her own mental health - for her intermodular project, and remarked:

'The PDNS in this audit requires support in managing her mental health as there is a suspected correlation between this deterioration, the rapid increase in deaths on her caseload, extra workload, and reduction in contact and support with colleagues.'

Taken from 'But we never went out' by Emma Edwards, Parkinson's disease specialist nurse

'The importance of self-care when we care for others' was covered at the MS Trust earlier this year where Dr Anita Rose, consultant clinical neuropsychologist, discussed the danger of 'compassion fatigue'. Highlighting what it is, and why healthcare practitioners are particularly at risk of it, Anita extolled the need to prioritise self-care, sharing several practical tips.

'Compassion fatigue is the emotional residue, or the stress or strain, of working with those who are suffering from a traumatic event. A diagnosis of MS is a traumatic event. A life-changing event. Whatever their [the patients'] response, it has a huge impact on their lives and their family's lives. And we are dealing with that in our day-to-day work.'

Dr Anita Rose, consultant clinical neuropsychologist, speaking at the MS Trust annual conference 2021

At the annual conference 'Raising the Bar 2020', Dr Brian Marien talked about the likelihood of 'burnout' as a very real health problem within the medical workforce. He also highlighted that, aside from the stressful and challenging environment of healthcare, studies have found that medical students tend to have high levels of stress and psychological difficulties before beginning their medical studies.

'If doctors get stressed - which they often feel is normal - and then get stressed about being stressed, they are 'bound for burnout'.'

Dr Brian Marien, Raising the Bar 2020

Brian talked about mental resilience and the need to both develop it in ourselves, and model it to our peers and trainees.

Neurology Academy is proud to support healthcare practitioners with the education, tools and resources they need to deliver the best possible care to people with a neurological condition. That includes the tools to protect their mental health, develop mental resilience and lead by that example in their local areas.

Last year, we held a webinar for nurse practitioners on 'mind health' with consultant neuropsychologist Jo Johnson and MS specialist nurse Ruth Stross, and over 97 individuals have watched the practical webinar, quick tips from which are also online.

Eager to support the wider healthcare community in the same vein, next month, Neurology Academy is hosting a practical workshop on mental resilience. Unlike the webinar offered previously, this workshop will be fully interactive, designed to engage delegates in discussion and skill development.

Facilitated by GP Dr Karen Foreshaw and Chrissie Mobray, a trained physiotherapist, hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, the workshop will help delegates increase their self-awareness, assess their current mental resilience, and develop a range of skills to improve mental health and reduce the risk of burnout or compassion fatigue.

Dr Karen Forshaw

GP, South Yorkshire

Chrissie Mowbray

Physiotherapist, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist

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