How we can really help the mental health of our carers
Last year I stood on my balcony on a warm, pleasant April evening. All around me, neighbours opened their doors to clap for our fantastic National Health Service. To say I was full of optimism for humanity would be an understatement. As I took in the moment, my mind oscillated between two thoughts; first, a glowing pride in our NHS and my neighbours but also a second one, more gnawing and demanding; how can we do more?
Working in the NHS is not an easy path. By all accounts, it’s a highly stressful, relatively unrewarded, underpaid and in current times; dangerous profession. I’ve heard first hand from a friend; a hospital general manager, just how hard it is at the moment with staff falling left, right and centre. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been touched hearing about the incredible lengths our carers go to ensure service for patients. My own experiences undoubtedly match the warmth and kindness I’ve felt when visiting hospitals.
Our NHS workers are as heroic as they are resilient, but they are still human and stress is stress. Stress is cumulative.
The mental health effects placed upon our doctors, nurses and everyone else in hospitals are extraordinary. The fatigue of serving our population day and night for years on end is crushing. Accompanying this is the acute and chronic anxiety induced by COVID.
Medicine has long been touched by the metaphors of war; we fight diseases, build and prepare our immune systems and shock and kill pathogens. It’s no a surprise that one nurse described her ICU as ‘like a warzone’ and ‘a tornado of humans’. The situation our NHS finds itself in is a perfect recipe unprecedented and unacceptable levels of stress.
What is offered in the way of mental health support? Very little to my knowledge.
So we at Yinshi decided to do a bit more than clap for our carers, and that’s where the idea of donating a Yinshi Work Pod # 1 came from.
With the generous help of friends, alongside the Relocations and Service Teams at St Thomas’, Scene 2, who gave up their time for free to help with the installation, the idea became a reality. Now St Thomas Hospital has a space where their staff and patients can get some much-needed respite, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and go about their day with an increased sense of calm.
Many have benefited since the pod arrived but this feedback alone, from a Deputy Sister, made it all worthwhile: "I love the meditation pod. It's like a secret hideaway from the world. Even 10 minutes in there without distractions does wonders for my stress levels."
The pod also made some headlines, and we even made it onto the BBC.
We all have a duty to do more than just clap for our carers, or ponder about how isolated our neighbours are. COVID has given us the chance to act as humans do best; in the spirit of community and kindness. Opportunities to do and be better are all around us.