Working in healthcare can be a very rewarding experience, but at times it can be equally as challenging. When our work is dedicated to helping others, all too often we can be exposed to pain, loss, fear and grief in so many different shapes and forms. In this space, the onus is on us all collectively, to proactively mind our own, and our colleagues mental health.
It is no coincidence, that our national strategy to reduce suicide in Ireland is called “Connecting for Life”. It’s title signifies a sense of connectedness to something, or someone, meaningful and healthy in our lives and work is a significant protective factor for our mental health. We spend so much of our time “at work” and so we need to carefully nurture meaningful connections with our colleagues, every day.
An international leading expert on suicide, Thomas Joiner talks of the importance of “belongingness”—feeling accepted by others— which is believed to be a fundamental need and something that is essential for every individual’s psychological health and well-being. Importantly, the sense of “pulling together” with others has been shown to have a preventive effect, decreasing ones sense of isolation or disconnect.
Developing a sense of workplace “belonging” by caring and supporting each other in times of difficulty is how we can both sustain and progress. Taking some simple steps like offering a listening ear, taking some quality time-out with a colleague or providing some practical day-to-day assistance to others, are great ways to ease strain. Always remember that there are colleagues and dedicated staff available to support others in any workplace setting – sometimes, you just need to take the first step, reach out and make that connection.
Dr Justin Brophy
Consultant Psychiatrist & Clinical Advisor
HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP)