Hello and WELCOME to PsychAssist. Within this article we explore how to keep yourself healthy whilst working in mental health. This article was written by a member of the PsychAssist team who is currently a support worker and they give their perspective of how to look after your own mental health whilst working in such a demanding role. This is something we hear many graduates and support workers talk about so we know this is a topic that we had to address. Hopefully this will be able to help you in your journey!
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The field of mental health can be a stressful career path, leading to high levels of stress and burnout amongst support workers and nurses. This can lead to feelings of resentment towards your job and career path, resulting in troubles with your health, motivation and life satisfaction. This is something I have personally experienced during my time as a mental health support worker and have learnt to overcome in recent months. In this article I will provide you with several tips and techniques to help you maintain a healthy mind whilst working in mental health.
Take a Holiday
This is the most successful way to maintain a healthy mindset surrounding your job, as it breaks the cycle of working and gives you things to look forward too. I made the mistake of not taking any annual leave for 8 months, I found this period incredibly challenging and with no break in sight, my mental health struggled. Therefore, I recommend taking regular breaks from work, and spending time doing activities you enjoy with people you love. Also, knowing that you have some time off, can make the difficult days that little bit easier.
PsychAssist Tip: Take a break! This is something that many eager Psychology Graduates struggle with as they constantly want to learn and progress. However this can equally be detrimental to not only your career but your own mental health! Besides, employers want to see that you have a life outside of work as this shows that you are an actual human being!
Rotate your daily tasks
One major issue with work that can lead to people becoming burnt-out and leaving their jobs is repeating the same tasks every day. In some companies this can be hard to change, however if you express interest to your supervisor about learning new skills and undertaking new roles this is an achievable goal. Splitting your time between different tasks can help break up the day and stop feelings of boredom and resentment. As a support worker I attempted this by working on care plans, risk assessments and working on different wards that both enhanced my experience and gave me a more rotational job role.
PsychAssist Tip: This tip is easier to implement than you think! Firstly, your supervisor wants you to learn more skills on the job as this means that they can essentially give you more work; which can provide the variation you need. Also, by simply asking other clinicians or colleagues how to do things, they will most likely show you, which opens up the question of “could I do this more often?”
“Remember no job is worth sacrificing your mental health!”
Talk to your supervisor
Now this is something I personally struggle to do, as I don’t like to be viewed as ‘miserable’ or ‘self-centred’, however if you keep your thoughts to yourself, nothing will change. The only way that you can be supported at work is to tell people. In my experience this can wildly change your job satisfaction. In my role, I know many people who have struggled with the demands of a high stress environment and when they have struggled, the company has supported them by giving them a break from the ward.
PsychAssist Tip: ALWAYS UTILISE SUPERVISION! (check out: How to Best Utilise Supervision, Pre-Qualified! ) as this will greatly help your job satisfaction and also your own mental health. Be open and honest with your supervisor as ultimately they are there to support you in your role! Also, in our experience, this is the best platform to review your job plan to see what can be added or taken away to suit you.
Don’t be afraid to look for another job
I’m a realistic person and the truth of the matter is, sometimes a job just isn’t right for you. If you have attempted to improve your job satisfaction and given it time, however still find that your job is making you miserable maybe it’s time to look for another job. Remember no job is worth sacrificing your mental health! This may difficult for financial reasons, however when possible this could be the right move for you.
PsychAssist Tip: There are always opportunities around every corner and another job will come along. Also, the mere action of actively looking for another job might give you the energy boost you need to make the leap from one role to another (Check out: When Psychology Graduates Should Move on From A Post). This will also help your own mental health as it’s a way of improving yourself and also a huge confidence boost when you start getting interviews.
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