Tuesday 10 March 2015

Taking the Stress out of Dealing with Stress

BBC news this week contained the worrying report on mental health charity MIND's recent online survey of emergency services personnel which found that 87% of respondents had experienced stress, low mood or poor mental health at some point whilst working within the emergency services.

A further worrying fact was that despite this greater prevalence of poor mental health, only 47% had admitted to taking any time off due to ill health. This suggests that emergency workers find it harder than other professions to say when they are not at their best, but they carry on regardless.

Whether this is down to embarrassment or an unfailing sense of duty, this line of thinking is not helpful - neither to the professional nor to the people they are trying to help as everybody here is getting the thin end of the wedge.

We've all heard the saying "Healer, heal thyself". How true is this.

It is only when we look after ourselves that we can look after others to the best of our ability. Anybody who is running on empty are doing just that - running - out of steam and helping no-one, least of all themselves. In fact, they are running towards burnout and a very long time off sick, and an even longer period of recovery.

MIND has initiated Blue Light Time to Change, a government-backed pledge for front-line mental health support for emergency personnel. And not a moment too soon.

If this pledge kicks off, then it will be a great start in the process. But even better would be pro-action rather than reaction. All people in caring  professions or emergency roles would benefit greatly from receiving regular non-judgemental support, allowing time and space for reflection and exploration of issues associated with their working practice.

But what if, as in the case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the stress is so severe or the memories and flashbacks are too painful to revisit through talking therapy? Five Element Acupuncture is the answer - the needles will do all the work if the thought of talking is just too overwhelming or frightening, and can be carried out with the minimum of patient/practitioner interaction if so desired.

Jo Banthorpe practices Five Element Acupuncture in Ipswich and is also a trained Supervisor and Mentor, offering support to those working in therapeutic, medical and caring professions and especially to those working in isolation.