Navigating your mental health

Mental health problems will affect 1 in 4 of us in our lifetime according to to UK’s leading mental health charity Mind (2020). As Biomedical scientists, including front line workers, and care workers the drastic increase in work demands, staffing shortages and issues surrounding fairer pay amidst a cost of living crisis has taken a toll for many.

I have been transparent with my mental illness , following a recent diagnosis of Bipolar disorder , which had been greatly impacted over the last two years for various reasons. With the prospect of another viral outbreak of monkeypox looming, I find myself feeling incredibly tense at home and work. I know that many of you might be feeling a sense of pressure in preparation for the next wave after steadily easing into a new normal only to have it disrupted.

General adaptation syndrome (GAS) is the process whereby the bodies response to stressors enters different stages (alarm, resistance and burnout). Inability to resolve the stress that has triggered GAS, can cause a physiological and psychological response. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of burnout and respond appropriately, liaising with colleagues by fostering an open dialogue about you and your mental health. Symptoms can vary from person to person but my include:-

  • fatigue
  • burnout
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • decreased stress tolerance
  • Feelings of negativity towards self or others
  • Hypersensitivity

I wanted to start the dialogue around mental health because firstly, I believe that the stigma around this heterogeneous group of illnesses of the mind and body are creating a perpetuating cycle that doesn’t seem to resolve itself because people keep quiet. when we start to talk and have open dialogues about our feelings it can feel like the burden is somewhat lifted. And we have a duty of care, not only to patients but to ourselves – it is after all a requirement for us to maintain our fitness to practice.

I think we scientists we carry the burden of being very knowledgeable about health and illness, but often fail to take care of our own needs properly. I have learned recently that we have to come first so we can be our best for others.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted this piece to be – but I hope that my pearl of wisdom is able to help someone in a time of need .

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