Mental health. It’s a topic being talked about more and more. To round off Mental Health Awareness week, Cira Olivier talks to providers about what life is like in the field, how it’s changing and how they are adapting to change.
Jocelyn Wooller wakes up at 5.30am. She enjoys a bit of quiet time before heading to work at 7am.
The Bay of Plenty District Health Board associate clinical nurse manager never knows quite what a day in Tauranga Hospital’s Te Whare Maiangiangi acute mental health unit will bring.
It’s a complex environment and often, the best-laid plans change. Being responsive and fluid is key.
“People experiencing psychological distress will often present in a variety of ways which requires an immediate response.
“You can’t be too rigid in your thought processes about how the day is going to go.”
Wooller has worked in mental health for the past six years after a mid-life career change.
“I’m a people person and I’ve always been interested in understanding people, seeing where they’re coming from and why they might act or present in a certain way.”
Wooller is one of three associate clinical nurse managers. Her day involves setting up breaks, co-ordinating staff with patients who have any activities outside the ward, and ensuring staff are aware which patient mental health reviews need to happen during the shift.
The acute unit deals with people who are “very unwell, often at their lowest points” and sometimes that means the impacts of work go home with her at the end of her shift at 4.05pm.
“There’s a bit of processing which needs to take place regarding the conversations you’ve had and the narratives you’ve been involved in, which can often contain themes of trauma and other difficult subjects.”
Work-life balance is a challenge as she is working towards a masters qualification.
This year, she’s been more deliberate in her mindfulness – eating well and taking time for regular breaks.
“That’s something we’re really focused on with our staff, the need to care for self before we can care for others.
“Mental health can be challenging but it’s also very rewarding and we’re privileged to be in a position where we’re helping people at their most vulnerable.”
Her studies have involved looking at compassion fatigue, a condition characterised by emotional and physical exhaustion which leads to a depleted ability to empathise or feel compassion for others.
As well as bringing people out of their lowest points, the married mother of three adult children enjoys time with loved ones, the odd glass of wine and running, walking and paddleboarding.
Last week, the Salvation Army released the State of our Communities Report, shining the spotlight on social issues in Rotorua, Johnsonville and Queenstown.
Mental health services were a top concern in the report as people experienced the impacts of stress, anxiety and…