World Mental Health Day 2017

Tuesday 10 October marks World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is ‘workplace wellbeing’.

Last month we worked with BBC Radio 5 Live to give their listeners an insight in to working in mental health, how it can have an effect on a professionals own mental health, and what our staff do to cope with the pressures they face…


Josef Faulkner, Locality Manager for the East North East Community Mental Health Team and Intensive Community Service

“I’m a proud male nurse and was a young carer for my mum. I’ve worked in mental health nursing since university and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

“There’s a real need to look after ourselves, because then we can look after those we support better. We do put our service users first and sometimes forget how we’re feeling or don’t pick up on the longer term effects of that.

Staff from CMHT

Josef, Eve, Kate, Julie, Lucy

“I see our staff coming together all the time to think of new ways to support each other and feel the best we can in work.

“At the Trust we’ve got access to counselling and psychologists if we need to talk. I’ve accessed the counselling service before for something non work-related but something that was affecting my work life. It’s really helpful to have someone on the other end of the phone 24/7.”


Lucy Davies, Community Mental Health Nurse

“Working in mental health is a challenging job and we have a lot of day-to-day pressures. You strive for perfection as a health practitioner. You want to give your best to someone and see the rewards of people get better and see their lives change. Sometimes that does come with challenges trying to get there as you kind of forget you need to look after yourself to look after others.

“Anyone and everyone can suffer from a mental illness. You can see if someone is struggling at work and in our team we ask each other if we need a cup of tea and a chat. Just those five or 10 minutes can change your whole day.

“The reason I became a nurse is because I wanted to help people, change lives and make people better. A good day for me is to discharge someone and think ‘I’ve done everything I could possibly do to make this person better’. Someone said to me the other day “Lucy you’ve changed my life, and you’ve saved my life” and that to me is why I do the job and get up in the morning.”


Julie Poole, Community Mental Health Nurse

“As healthcare professionals, we can be our own worst enemy. We aren’t superhuman, we are human, we do have feelings, and things do affect us. We think we can help everybody but we have to remember we need to help ourselves too. We deal with other people’s stresses and mental health issues.

“It’s about getting help both areas, work and home, and knowing where to go for support. For me it’s important to finish your day job and keep your home life separate.”


Nuwan Dissanayaka, Consultant Psychiatrist for the Leeds Assertive Outreach Team

Picture of Nuwan Dissanayaka


“I became a doctor to help those who are suffering. I think that the people I see not only have to contend with very serious mental illness but also with the same physical health issues that affect others. In fact they often have greater physical needs. The work is hard but that makes it all the more rewarding. I feel privileged to work with the service users and staff that I do. I love my job.

“Life for me doesn’t split neatly into work and home which means that I don’t see work as something that I have to wind down from. That said, I do value my home life and, my kids especially, help to keep things in perspective.

“I’m a Buddhist and compassion is a core Buddhist belief that starts with ourselves. Acknowledging my own stress and being kind to myself is so important. Without this it’s easy to become weighed down by life and that can make it very hard to support anyone else. I’d like to think that we look after each other where I work in the Assertive Outreach Team.

“Mindfulness helps with staying resilient at work. Developing an awareness of the present moment and the transient nature of experience allows me to recognise that challenging times do not last forever. It can help me notice and enjoy the bright moments. We often forget to do this or to celebrate our little successes.”


Eve Townsley, Locality Manager for the West North West Community Mental Health Team and Intensive Community Service

“Working in healthcare can be stressful and challenging but it’s unique, and because we need to give an amount of ourselves to those we care for it can have an impact on us.

“Colleagues have said they need support and supervision and they get this in a number of ways. We’re doing a lot of work within our team around resilience. I’ve had some coaching and mentorship through the Trust. It helps to have extra support and strategies so I can continue to do the job I love for a long time.

“The beauty of it is that every day is different, but that in itself can be very hard to keep doing.”


Kate Ward, Occupational Therapist and Care Coordinator

“I left school at 16 and started working as a travel agent. Around this time I was also becoming more aware of mental health problems in my family which made me really interested in mental health recovery and therapies. I decided I wanted to work in a caring role and so I joined the NHS in my early twenties (14 years ago now). I started off in a general admin role and just developed myself from there really with the opportunities that have been given to me by the Trust.

“I work with some really great people. It is a challenging job but when it feels particularly tough for me, I know who I can go to in the team to support me when I need it.

“It can be incredibly rewarding meeting people in the community and being part of that stage of their recovery. It’s amazing the relationships you build with people who let us into their lives during such personal and difficult experiences. It’s great to see people move on and recover.

“The best part of the job is feedback we get from the service users when they acknowledge you’ve played a part in their recovery. Feeling that you’re making a difference to people’s lives is just fantastic. I do love my job.

“When I finish for the day I go to the gym to wind down as I feel like I can usually leave my thoughts about work there. I also enjoy spending time with my family, including my dog! I make a point of trying to book trips away when I have any annual leave.”

Listen to the full BBC Radio 5 Live clip online.