Changing the conversation about health
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Mental Health Group

9297994203_04299fd8b9Mental and physical health are deeply intertwined

Dr Chris Manning introduces our mental health work:

The time-honoured divide between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ understandings and practices is crumbling – with increasing evidence for the way in which the mind is ‘em-bodied’ as well as ‘em-brained’.

Mental health is our health and wellbeing; it is not synonymous with mental illness (“peace is not the same as war”) or its absence (“peace is more than the absence of war”). It is therefore a vital issue for issue for everyone, not just the substantial proportion of the population who will experience mental illness at some point in their lives.

One of the first acts of our Mental Health Group was to work with the Self-Care Group to contact people around the UK and internationally who were active in the field of compassionate care, including New Zealand consultant anaesthetist Dr Robin Youngson. You can watch his 2012 talk here.

The Mental Health Group will champion better mental health, training and support for the NHS workforce as an essential determinant of delivering excellent care to all patients and a deeper understanding of mental health and illness that will be underpinned by psychologically-minded and compassionate approaches and interventions.

The dumping of time-expired mental-physical thinking will also help to “mainstream mental healthcare” and ensure that all patients, whatever their diagnosis and in the absence of one, are treated with dignity and respect.

For the Group, there is no such thing as ‘hard’ skills and ‘soft’ skills either; mindful approaches involve, at least, the brain and we are prepared to take Einstein’s view of that ‘soft’ organ as the “most complex technology in the known universe” from which ultimately all ‘hard’ skills (and associated technologies) derive.

What we have done so far

  • Each year, we support World Suicide Prevention Day.
  • The Group worked to co-create Pulse’s Battling Burnout campaign, together with the Royal College of GPs and Dr Clare Gerada;
  • We are working with Prof David Morris to develop a proposal for a Connected Communities Network;
  • We have established a national and international network with people and organisations focused on compassion in healthcare;
  • We organised a themed compassion issue of the Journal of Holistic Healthcare through close joint-working with the Self-Care Group
  • We represent the College at a number of levels including the National Suicide Advisory Board and the Human Values in Healthcare Forum. We are also involved in the First 1001 Days of Life APPG, since “getting the best possible start in life” is key to health and wellbeing life trajectory and predisposition to illness.

More about Battling Burnout

Our work on GP burnout has revealed a profession where 43% of those 1800 GPs surveyed showed at least one sign of burnout. It can be younger male GPs and those working in the most deprived areas of the country who are the worst affected. The knock on effects can create doctors who are less able to engage with their patients or who have to go on sick-leave.

In a talk by Dr Chris Manning and Dr Alastair Dobbin at our 2013 Annual Conference on burnout, they discuss the results of the Pulse survey on burnout, and go on to look at simple techniques, originally evolved to create resilience in Olympic athletes, which have been evaluated and shown to help doctors and patients alike to “ever mind” themselves.

The Group lead is Dr Chris Manning.  You can read an interview with him here.  He explains how his own experience of depression coloured his view of illness, and why a more equal doctor-patient relationship is essential.