Coping with Mental Health as a Student Nurse!

The topic surrounding mental health, can always be difficult for people to discuss and therefore, if you are struggling in general or reading this please contact the relevant details below:

Samaritans- 116 123 Papyrus HOPELINEUK- 0800 068 41 41 NHS- 111 if you feel as if you pose significant harm to yourself Anxiety UK- 03444 775 774

#HelloMyName is Lucy and I a 2nd year student children’s nurse, which is crazy as I do not know how I am already halfway through my degree.. For a long time, I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety all of which can sometimes be emotionally draining but being able to manage my triggers etc. I am very open regarding my diagnosis, I was not at first, but it made me realise how much better I was for talking and speaking to others, which is something that everyone should do or even take five minutes to breathe. Just because you have a mental illness does not mean you are any less of a student nurse or a person. I am extremely passionate surrounding mental health- whether it be teaching other ways to cope or tips to help recognise burnout. Or regarding patients and when to know to step away for your own mental wellbeing.

When I began placement, I did not know what to expect especially starting in the middle of a pandemic. After spending some time on placement, I have realised how detrimental the effects of the coronavirus is on mental health more than ever, not jut for our patients but also ourselves. Mental health has always been a taboo subject, that is hard for many to understand or even talk about.

Taking time for yourself has never been more important, to find a way for yourself to be able to relax and wind down is essential. If it is taking bubble baths, reading a book, shopping spree or just doing something that makes you happy it is extremely important. Sometimes just seeing someone who you do not see at placement, especially second years who have been on placement since September doing something that doesn’t involve nursing.

Burnout is extremely common for those in the health care profession, you may just think that it’s for qualified nurses etc. But it happens to us too, juggling placement, exams, essays, and then trying to rest and have a social life outside of university can be difficult and hard to maintain for a long time period. Prioritization is key especially when it comes to your health. Recognising when you are potentially burning out is essential. Being able to tell that you are not getting down time between shifts or not recovering/ switching off between shifts is a sign that you should speak to your personal tutor or personal assessor/supervisor to try and levitate the stress that you have and work out hours between placement, so you do get a break. As humans we are very good at recognising when someone else is struggling, but what about ourselves? When do we know that we need a break?

Debriefing after work with housemates or friends is a really good way to help and try to calm yourself, so that it will not build up. If you have a patient who has been very emotionally tolling on yourself please tell the placement and university to seek help and discuss what has happened and if next time a situation like this has occurred then knowing when to step back and giver permission for ourselves to have a break, as the most pressure we ever receive is what we give to ourselves, which will not help our physical or emotional wellbeing.

This pandemic has caused a lot of issues for everyone, this extremely prevalent within our younger generation, this reflected throughout every children’s ward across our localities. This can be very challenging for student nurses who may have never experienced a person with severe mental health or potentially never seen self-harm marks before. Therefore, knowing your limits is extremely important as a student nurse and taking a step back from a mentally demanding patient is okay too. Some patients can have extreme mental health issues which can be tolling physically and mentally. I myself have had patients that yes I have gone home and cried about due to the toll it took on my body. But that is completely okay, as I learnt what my limit was and how much I could handle (this takes time). However, I know that myself stepping back felt as if I was not providing the best care as possible for my patient but there are ways to provide excellent care which does not take such an impact on yourself. YOU CAN’T HELP OTHERS IF YOU CAN’T HELP YOURSELF FIRST

Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students and teaching fellows only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.

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