Why kindness is key for Mental Health Professionals

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By Suzanne Traynor @Traynors
Associate Professor Mental Health (Practice) at Middlesex University & My Care Academy.

Working with people experiencing acute mental health distress can at times be challenging but I have found that relationships based on kindness is a helpful beginning.  I am interested in and curious about their lives and what is happening to them.  I am hopeful for their future and the opportunities that are waiting for them.  I am a resource and the quality of my relationship with them directly effects the outcome to our engagement.   Our relationship will grow when I spend time with service users and get to know them in a meaningful well.  The challenges of developing relationships with service users who may not want to actively engage can mean an initial rejection, but I do not see this as a reason not to try, try, and try again. My super power is forming relationships!

Kindness

Kindness in my relationships with colleagues is also important.  Getting to know new members of the team – being friendly and investing in these relationships is essential. We all struggle at different times so offer support to others by coaching and role modelling and being a supportive colleague.  This investment will enable you to  know the strengths of your colleagues and how you can best work together as a team and understand and appreciate each of your talents and strengths.

Be kind to yourself – if you want to sustain your own wellbeing you need to know yourself; your strengths and weaknesses; what upsets you or troubles you. Use your professional support network to reflect on your work and gain feedback.  Encourage and support the people you work with to be a reflective team – help each other support service users within the framework of recovery. Be mindful of the language within your team and ensure that the shorthand conversations do not become your mind set. People’s lives are much more complicated than that.

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.” Henry James

Actively think about your career as a healthcare professional and what you would like to achieve but remember the importance of a work life balance. To do this job well you need to be emotionally engaged with the process and this can be exhausting at times. Have in place people and activities that nourish your mind and body. Take care of yourself.

Discover more

If you would like to read more about Kindness within Healthcare the following is a great starting point:

Ballat,J., Campling, P. (2011)  Intelligent Kindness : Reforming the culture of Healthcare, RCPsy Publication: London

Or follow Suzanne Traynor on Twitter @Traynors

Note: Wordle image based on this blog post by Suzanne Traynor.

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