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The importance of managing our own stress as Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists

Stress Awareness month has been held every April since 1992. Its aim is to raise awareness about the causes - and the cures - for what the Stress Management Society calls a ‘modern stress epidemic’.

The Stress Management Society explains, “lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation, which in turn lowers people’s wellbeing, impacts mental health and can lead to mental illness”. As child and adolescent psychiatrists, we understand the impact that mental health difficulties can have on young people and their families. But sometimes we are so focussed on supporting our patients, we neglect to consider the impact of stress on ourselves that can be caused by work issues.

Work related stress is defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. As the NHS Employers website notes, stress is more prevalent in public service occupations, such as health and social care.

In the NHS 2020 annual survey, they found that 44% of staff reported feeling unwell as the result of work-related stress; an increase of 4% from the year before. The NHS calculated that stress, as well as anxiety and other psychiatric illnesses, is consistently the most reported sickness absence in the NHS; that equates to over 511,000 full time equivalent days lost.

So, what can we do to reduce stress in our lives? The Stress Management Society says it takes 30 days to turn actions into habits. Take a look at their 30-day challenge which, they say, will maximise your chances of turning useful knowledge and techniques into positive behavioural change. Here are a few to get you started:

Physical

  • Take regular screen break – get up and move
  • Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Digital detox – do something that doesn’t involve a screen
  • Make sure you schedule in time for doing things for yourself

Mental

  • Plan something to look forward to in the future
  • Do a mindful activity
  • Take time out for self-care
  • Learn something new

Emotional

  • Ask for help if you need it
  • Communicate with friends/family/colleagues
  • Reflect on your day by keeping a happiness journal
  • It’s OK to not be OK – seek support

 

These types of activities can be helpful to an extent, however, if your work environment is excessively stressful/toxic then the impact of these interventions can be limited. Autonomy in the workplace has been linked with greater job satisfaction and well-being and this can be difficult to achieve when public services are under-resourced. If changes in the workplace are not possible or if people feel under supported then you may be considering moving jobs.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) list the most common methods that organisations use to identify and reduce stress in the workplace in their 2022 ‘Health and wellbeing at work’ survey; of which one method includes offering flexible working options to improve work-life balance.

At JM Mental Health we go out of our way to make working in our private practice as stress-free as possible for the whole team – from our child and adolescent psychiatrists to our admin and support. If we can’t look after ourselves and allow our team to have control over what they do every day, how could we successfully help our patients and their families?

We make sure we offer our child and adolescent psychiatrists:

  • A pace of work which is both efficient and enjoyable.
  • Competitive rates of renumeration and efficient management of invoicing.
  • A pleasant environment in which to work with the possibility of working virtually with some patients.
  • Full admin support enabling you to focus solely on clinical work.
  • Screened referrals to ensure you see appropriate cases.
  • Up to 10 weeks leave in any one holiday year.
  • An established network of referral partners supporting multi-disciplinary working.
  • Control of your schedules enabling you to take the appropriate time with patients as well as sufficient rest breaks and time for admin.

Are you looking for a new way of working? Join our team.

We are looking for compassionate and experienced consultant child and adolescent psychiatrists (with a minimum of 3 years’ experience of working in the NHS) who want to join us. It may feel like a big step making the move to private practice, but we are here to support both new and existing members of our team.

We are a small but rapidly growing independent practice, delivering high quality personalised care to young people and their families. If you are ready for such a move, we would love to hear from you. For informal enquiries to discuss this opportunity further, please email our practice manager at: support@jmmentalhealth.co.uk

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