This week was Mental Health Awareness week, a time to reflect on and raise awareness of all the various aspects of mental health issues that affect us all. In a little bit of kismet I have just finished reading (well listening to….) a book called This Is Going To Hurt – Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay.
It details the 6 years he spent as a junior doctor, right from graduating medical school to leaving the profession after a particularly bad incident. The book was a mixture of highly funny anecdotes and details of the stress and hard working conditions that doctors (and other staff) in the NHS face.
At one point in the book when he is wearing a blood pressure monitor after seeing his own GP, a patient comments that we don’t think of doctors as being human. They are god-like, omnipotent and infallible. When we go to see them for our issues, it makes it easier for us to see them so when they are caring for us at our lowest.
This book reminds us that they are human – while we may be sat in a clinic moaning they are running late, they could be missing their finish time for the 30th day in a row. They could be missing their friends/family wedding/christening/funeral just to make sure they are there for us.
That is an immense amount of pressure – no matter what is happening in their life they cannot show it. I know most of us have probably had a moan at work about our home life – they cannot. What would you feel if you came into your doctors appointment and they were sat there crying or angry and taking it out on you?
They are running around fighting fires, juggling different problems – all without showing how its affecting them.
So please, this Mental Health Awareness Week spare a thought for any health care professionals in your life. At the end of the day, ask them how their day was. But really ask them – bottling up everything that happens to them will not do them any good. They need to talk and they need to unload so it doesn’t overwhelm them.