Ending the stigma of Mental Health

Below is a link to a great article on the BBC website regarding Mental Health. It tells the tale of a Mental Health Nurse who rose through the ranks to become a director in the NHS. She’s suffered with small bouts of ‘mild to moderate’ depression through the years but managed to cope with it using different techniques and services. During this time very few of her family and friends knew of her trouble, isn’t that amazing, that a Mental Health professional who worked day in day out with other folks with similar issues was conscious of the stigma attached to Mental Health.


Eventually the depression deepened and she required hospitalisation. She’s very bravely come out and shared all of this and praised the service that helped her, yet it remains a postcode lottery for most in her situation. The service she used she found fantastic but others across the country unfortunately won’t be so lucky. Cuts have been made year on year to many of the Trust’s providing this care, beds are reducing and services are feeling the strain with 1 in 4 adults now suffering with a variety of Mental Health issues.
This isn’t a political post on our part but one to highlight the need to talk to each other about our Mental Health. Mandy Stevens, the lady in this article, finished it off by saying, “My first message is to reach out to people. Speak to your close family and friends about your mental health, and start opening conversations about it. Don’t say ‘I’m okay’ when you’re not okay” and I think those are wise words indeed.


Well done Mandy Stevens for sharing your story and helping to end the Stigma attached to Mental Health.


Calm your mind

Here we are on National Stress Awareness Day and so I thought I’d do a little post about taking time out for yourself. In this fast paced world with 24 hour news cycles and constant streaming social media it can be very hard to get moments of peace. You have to ask yourself some fairly simple questions though. Does that email need replying to at 9pm, do you need to see your ex classmates holiday photos at 11.30pm after tucking yourself in and how many times do you need to refresh twitter before you tire of the ‘noise’ for yet another day?

Taking time out for yourself is not only recommended, it’s now obligatory. Without that time away from the noise of internet traffic thundering across your screen you are undoubtedly going to burn yourself out. To be a more productive human being I’d recommend actually setting yourself time limits or cut offs for tech usage, no screens after 8pm for example. Do whatever fits around your business and your life but remember to give yourself that break from noise for a period of time everyday. Leave the phone in another room, shut down the computer and tablets and just sit and be. Appreciate the world around you and reconnect with yourself.

There’s been a lot of talk about mindfulness recently and the NHS even have a great piece on their website regarding this. if you’d like the link to have a look. Take some time to have a read and try to make time in your day to relax and calm your mind.



Raising Concerns At Work

Nurses have a duty to report and challenge poor and unsafe practice. Yet while systems and processes should be in place so that staff can highlight concerns without fear of retribution or retaliation, many nurses are reluctant to speak up. Nearly one third of NHS employees said they do not feel secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice, according to a recent NHS staff survey.

If you’re thinking about raising a concern, here’s what to consider and what you can expect to happen.

Barriers to speaking up

Raising a concern by reporting it to your manager, or escalating an issue by submitting evidence through a formal process, can be a daunting prospect. Many nurses fear that the process will have a detrimental effect on their health and prospects, while also affecting those about whom they are raising concerns and the patients involved. At the same time, headlines about whistle blowers who have lost their job, suffered bullying, or had their personal integrity publicly questioned, has only exacerbated the problem.

It’s a nurse or midwife’s responsibility to prioritise people, indeed this is the first theme of the NMC Code, which in practice means identifying potentially harmful or unethical practices – challenging those and raising concerns when required. Nurses are protected in law from harassment, bullying, dismissal and other detrimental action when raising a concern appropriately.

Those considering whether to raise concerns about care need to feel confident they will be given respect, dignity and, if necessary, anonymity and confidentiality by their team and organisation.

Making a qualifying ‘protected disclosure’ in the public interest can include: revealing information regarding mistreatment of patients, law breaking, health and safety violations or financial irregularities.

Protected disclosures can be made by ex-employees and current staff, as well as trainees and students.

When to raise an issue

Sometimes, knowing whether a situation should be raised as a concern isn’t always straight forward.

Ask yourself, has the situation caused harm or distress or if you let the situation carry on, is it likely to result in harm or distress?’

Your concern must be based on a reasonable belief that you can justify, but you do not always need hard evidence that wrongdoing is happening, has taken place or is likely to happen in the future.

The revised Nursing and Midwifery Council code states that nurses must “act without delay if you believe that there is a risk to patient safety or public protection” (NMC, 2015). You could be in breach of the code if you wait to take action. If you see poor care or feel you are being prevented from providing safe, compassionate care, start discussing it with your colleagues as soon as possible. Make sure you’re aware of the different approaches you can take to prevent a problem occurring the first place.

How to raise a concern

Once you have identified who to approach, decide whether to raise your concerns verbally or in writing. Either way, you will need to prepare what you’re going to say.

Your organisation should have a local raising concerns and whistle blowing policy, which provides a solid outline of their particular process. Expect to give some background to the issue, the history of your concerns and the reasons for your concern. Keep a detailed record of notes throughout the process, logging what was said, by whom, and on what date.

You should be able to raise your concern confidentially (unless you’re required to give your name by law). When you raise the issue, make it clear whether you wish to remain anonymous or not.

It will be much harder to investigate the concern if follow-up questions cannot be asked. It’s also easier to get protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act if the concerns are raised openly.

What happens next?

Your employer should consider your concerns carefully, and without fear of detriment. They then have a responsibility to investigate your concern thoroughly, promptly and confidentially.

Depending on the nature of the issue, and how serious and urgent the risk, your employer will decide whether it’s best dealt with under the organisation’s raising concerns policy. They will also determine whether assistance is required or if referral to senior managers, or a specialist function, is necessary.

You should get an answer in writing, summarising your concerns, whether you raised them openly or anonymously, and informing you of the steps that will be taken to resolve the situation.

If you do not receive this, the RCN can provide advice and support. Contact RCN Direct (0345 772 6100) for advice or the NHS whistle blowing helpline on: 0800 072 4725.

Will there be personal consequences for me?

While the majority of employers respect their moral and legal obligations, it can take courage to raise concerns, especially in the face of possible victimisation.

Remember that legislation is there to protect you.

Your continued employment and opportunities for future promotion or training should not be affected. If this happens, you can bring a claim at an Employment Tribunal.

If the matter is not resolved?

The majority of cases will be resolved internally. If you have exhausted your organisation’s relevant internal policies and procedures without success, you may choose to disclose your concerns externally.

Going to the media should always be a last resort. There may be confidentiality issues and employer policies that you need to be aware of. Your aim, as always, should be to nurse in accordance with the RCN Principles of Nursing Practice – looking out for problems or issues that may be harmful to patients, and indeed safeguarding issues.

The most important thing is to maintain your honesty and professional integrity when raising concerns and see them through to ensure positive outcomes.


We Have Jobs For Nurses and Carers Available Now

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Are you a nurse or a carer?

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We offer very competitive rates of pay, travel expenses covered, uniform provided and DBS checks and training included. We also, unlike most other agencies, offer holiday pay on top of your base rate.

Just register an interest at or call 01803 210349


Why become an agency Nurse or Healthcare Assistant

Nursing and Healtcare assisting are incredibly rewarding yet demanding careers, and working as an agency nurse or HCA, either part-time or full-time, can be an excellent way to supplement any other employment you currently undertake, but is it right for you? Working as an agency nurse or HCA means you will have more flexibility with your scheduling, as you are not obligated to undertake a set amount of shifts. This means that people with families can work around their needs.

Some agencies can offer higher pay rates than fixed positions, although this varies from agency to agency. Agency nursing can also give people the chance to work in a number of different units and disciplines rather than being tied to one specific discipline or environment. The benefit of this is that it allows nurses and HCAs to increase their skill set while gaining invaluable experience dealing with a wider range of needs and patients.

There are, of course some downsides to being an agency nurse. As there are no guaranteed hours, a person would have to be comfortable being uncertain about their income which is why many use agency to suppliment their income. While flexibility and independence is expected, workers with young families or those undertaking further studies have found this type of work compliments their lifestyle, it is however not always suitable for everyone. Some agency nurses or carers have reported feeling on the outside when they go in to certain hospitals or units, although there is no proof that agency nurses or carers are treated any differently. For those people who like variety, agency nursing or caring can be an ideal and rewarding option.

What it comes down to is personal preference; some prefer the independence, and some do not. It really is your choice.


Tips for Night Workers

Building up to a nightshift

When starting a set of night shifts you have a couple of options:

Strategy 1: Stay up really late (at least 3am – 6am) the night before, maybe binge watch a box set or read useful how to guides on the internet, then sleep for the majority of the day before your first nightshift.

Strategy 2: Go to bed as usual the night before , sleep in until late morning, have a big lunch then go back to sleep for an afternoon nap.


While Working

Drink water first and foremost and eat good quality food. It’s hard to be high functioning when you are symptomatically dehydrated.

Ease off on the caffeine half way through your shift or you will have trouble sleeping when you get home.


Between nightshifts

If you suddenly realise you are too tired to drive home, DON’T. Get a taxi or phone a friend. As easy as it seems it’s not worth the risk to you or others.

Your body reacts to sunlight. Wear dark glasses home, invest in cut-out curtains or an eye mask. Avoid artificial light as tempting as social media and the amount of LOL’s is, it will make it harder to get some quality rest.

If you live in a noisy area or a noisy house ear plugs are a must.

Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep. It is a sleep inducer but it will disrupt your REM sleep which impacts on how rested and functional you are on waking.

Keep your commitments to friends and family to a minimum, you wouldn’t wake up at 3am to go and meet for breakfast. Remember while on nights you are essentially living life in reverse.


Getting back to days

How you cope with this depends on your circumstances but the best I have found is after post-nights breakfast, go home and have a four hour nap eg 10am-2pm then potter about and get some daylight. Go to bed at your usual time and you’ll be fully funtional the next day. If you have to stay up during the day try and have a nap at some point and avoid any activity that is mentally or physically strenuous.

In all seriousness, please look after yourself and appreciate no matter how long you have worked night shifts it does put increased stress on you.