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Looking after your mental health

To mark World Mental Day on 10 October 2022, King’s Health Partners (KHP) Mind & Body team and Champions network shared their thoughts and reflections on making mental health a priority in their work, and day-to-day lives.

World Mental Health Day took place on 10 October 2022 with the theme ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. It was a chance to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things, and get help if you are struggling.

KHP Mind & Body team and Champions network are committed to joining up and delivering excellent mental and physical healthcare to improve health outcomes for patients across south east London. To mark World Mental Health Day, they shared below their thoughts and reflections on making mental health a priority in their work and day-to-day lives.

Natalia Stepan [pictured], Programme Director, KHP Mind & BodyNatalia Stepan

“Through the Mind & Body programme, we work across KHP to raise awareness of the relationship between mental and physical health and to support services to join up services around the patient’s needs, not their condition. Our aim is to ensure that mental health is an integral part of how our patients are looked after."

“To share learning more broadly, we have launched a Mind & Body Improvement Network that enables members to access case studies and resources, share learning, and support each other to make tangible improvements to join up mental and physical healthcare.”

KHP Mind & Body Champion (anon)

“I make my mental health a priority by maintaining a good work like balance. I understand that I can only show up as my best at work if I take time to look after myself outside work. For me this includes spending quality time with my loved ones, listening to music or getting active. Recently, I have started swimming again and this has been an amazing way of being active, learning a new skill, and bettering my mental health.”

Carl Nwabudike [pictured], Project Manager, KHP Mind & BodyCarl Nwabudike

“I make sure my mental health is a priority by regularly checking in with how I am feeling. I know that I am not always going to be 'happy’, so I allow myself to feel other emotions when they do come into play.

“When I do feel low or not my usual self, I try to pinpoint what could be causing those feelings - they're often caused by a big event or something that I'd consider a milestone, so usually stem from a place of anxiety.

“Working out is definitely something that improves my overall mental wellbeing. Getting to the gym is often a struggle but I do feel so much better after I have completed a workout. I can testify to the link between the mind and body and the need to work on both, as they are truly equally as important.”

KHP Mind & Body Champion (anon)

“I stress about my to-do list like everyone, but I also know I have to protect my private time, and I try to have a good work-life balance. I fill my weekends with other things - gardening, painting the house, seeing my partner, spending time with my mum - and that helps me have perspective on what could otherwise be overwhelming. I try‚Äč to meditate and I’m sometimes okay with it. I also have lots of other things I'm doing - like learning German, exercising, trying to read or listen to podcasts, and sometimes meditation has to take a back seat for a few months. Although it does help, so I should do it again.”

Dr Clare Cooper, Psychologist, Mind & Body IMPARTS

“Try to make sure that you carve out some regular time in your life for things that you really enjoy – it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – watching a favourite TV programme or reading a good book can be great. If you have a hobby or favourite pastime always try to keep doing that regularly even when things are tough. Working clinically I have always found that a hobby completely different from anything work related helps me to switch off and look after myself. Doing things we enjoy helps with confidence, and adds enormous underlying value to our lives and sense of wellbeing and self."

KHP Mind & Body Champion (anon)

“I’m not very good at finding the time (or motivation) to do something, so instead I ensure my day to day has some things that I find helpful. I try and get some fresh air every day - some days that’s walking from the station to the office or getting on the bus a few stops further away so I walk, and other days I might take a cup of tea outside for 10 mins, or have a quick walk along the seafront between clients or meetings. I try to have a good routine, going to bed at a reasonable time and not using my phone. If I’m stressed, I take a bath, call a friend or sit down with a book for half an hour which helps. I avoid social media and its been helpful, both as an unnecessary mindless distraction, and as unhelpful exposure to a world I find stressful and toxic.

“With my clients / patients, I try to encourage them to make small changes rather than sweeping and grand plans for activities that they are likely to struggle to maintain. Sometimes the first place to start is remembering to pay attention to when they’re hungry or thirsty, and for others it’s to pick up the phone to speak to someone, read a book, or get some exercise. 

“I try to look after myself and my wellbeing, I’m not always very good and I fall off the wagon regularly.  I try to notice when I’m not doing any of these things, but sometimes I need someone else to point out that I’m not looking after myself.  Whenever this happens I try not to get annoyed or frustrated, but just accept that I’m human and life gets in the way and I just need to keep trying.”

KHP Mind & Body team member (anon)

“I am so proud of the PEACS project and the work we have done so far. From beginning to end we have consistently thought about what will work best for our patients, and how best we can meet both their mental and physical health care needs. We have designed a service that could be described as a 'warm hug' for those patients who have felt unheard or misunderstood due to the nature of this complex condition.

“Through expert assessments, psychoeducational interventions, and working closely with our community partners we aim to care for the social, psychological and biological needs of our patients. We will support them throughout the entire process, whilst teaching them the skills and knowledge needed of how to independently manage their pain in an improved and empowered way.”Gracie Tredget

Gracie Tredget [pictured], Project Manager, Mind & Body IMPHS

“I make mental health and wellbeing a global priority for all by continually striving to widen and challenge my own perspectives in how we deliver meaningful healthcare in a modern and changing world, and by committing wherever possible to keep patients at the heart of everything that I do”

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