Mind over Matter (Literally)
16 Mar 2017
I applied to the NHS Graduate Scheme, first and foremost, so I could have experience of working in mental health services. Improving mental health services was something I did, and still do, feel passionately about.
I was, therefore, rather disheartened when I was placed in a community trust. This was a somewhat fleeting reaction, and I have actually really enjoyed working in the community. The thought of having my first placement in a big, acute, hospital terrified me. I have felt ‘at home’ (excuse the pun) from the moment I joined my community trust, and I have seen, first hand, how valuable it is to deliver care as close to home as possible.
Although I am enjoying my first placement, I have still found it difficult to shake my desire to work within mental health. The projects which I am most enthused about in my workplace are those which could improve mental health outcomes for members of our community. Having experience of working for a community trust, has also demonstrated the continuing focus on physical health needs. This is not a criticism, but is reflective of the whole system, and comments made in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, that “Mental health has not had the priority awarded to physical health, has been short of qualified staff, and has been deprived of funds.”
However, I have also seen the importance of integrating mental and physical health. I have attended MDT meetings where representatives from our local mental health trust have been present, and their input has been invaluable – they were key to ensure that patients had access to the advice and services they need, and were quick to identify when a patient was potentially suffering from a mental health condition.
Before I witnessed our MDT meetings, I was becoming increasingly frustrated that I could have no real impact on improving mental health services, due to my position. However, after seeing how valuable it was to have mental health simply recognised at a meeting, my mind set has changed.
It is all about ‘mind over matter’ – and by this I mean overcoming ‘physical barriers’ to promote the importance of mental health, in any way you can (even if this just means that you are a mental health champion at a meeting!). For me, personally, physical barriers could include things my current role, and the lack of funding for mental health services in the NHS. I have, therefore, given careful consideration to what I could do to overcome these tangible issues.
There are things I could do in the workplace to link my current work to mental health outcomes. I have also had conversations with my manager about the possibility of spending more time shadowing our local mental health trust, to learn more about the challenges they currently faced.
However, to truly overcome the issues highlighted above, I have decided that I need to participate in a 40-mile Hike across the Lake District, to fundraise for the mental health charity, Mind (an obvious solution). Mind are an incredible charity, which provide advice and support to people with mental health problems, as well as continuously campaigning to end the stigma associated with mental health. Fundraising for Mind means that this support, alongside any transformational work occurring in the NHS, can continue.
Again, this challenge really is ‘Mind over Matter’ as it is literally for Mind, and in terms of the ‘Matter’, I’m not particularly fit, so the past week and a half of training has been a challenge both physically and mentally (and I still have four months of it to go)!
I’m going to end this post through some shameless self-promotion. If you would like to sponsor me, and donate to Mind, you can do so through my fundraising page:
Any donations would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks for reading,
You can follow me on twitter @bethany_carty