Mental Health: Supporting International Healthcare Workers

Mental Health: Supporting International Healthcare Workers

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, which is a great opportunity for us all to stop, think and reflect on what good mental health looks like for us.

Health and social care workers have very rewarding roles; they provide excellent care to patients and their families, often during tough times. However, along with the rewards come the challenges. Health and social care roles are often high-pressure and come with stress situations. For overseas professionals, there’s sometimes the added impact of living away from loved ones and climatising to a new environment.

How do we prepare our mental health for these types of situations?

We know that many things can contribute to poor mental health – stress, loneliness, not doing enough exercise, bad diet, not getting enough sleep. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on.

But, are we all aware of what we can do to create a positive mental mindset and more resilience?  

In this blog we detail five things to help towards good mental wellbeing if you’re an international healthcare worker:

1. Talk to your colleagues about how you’re feeling

Opening up to a trusted staff member or line-manager can be a good way to address how you’re feeling, before you start to work towards actions to improve your mental health. These conversations might not feel like much, but a problem shared is a problem halved and getting those feelings off your chest can make you feel lighter and more positive.

2. Find a like-minded community

If you’re an overseas health and social care worker who has recently relocated to the UK for a new role, all be it a very exciting move, you may also feel a little isolated as you adjust to UK life. It’s important to find a group of people who understand your experiences, which is why our Migrate app and its thriving community is the perfect place to make friends and connections. Not only can you interact with other international health and social care professionals who have also recently relocated, but you can share/receive work-related advice too.

3. Move your body more

It’s very easy to live sedentary lives – busy work schedules, caring for children and the endless chores at home often leaves us depleted and with very little time to prioritise our fitness. However, we know that doing exercise realises endorphins, which triggers a happy feeling in the brain. One of the advantages to being a health and social care worker is that you most likely spend a lot of your day on your feet, which gives you the perfect opportunity to partake in the 10,000 steps a day challenge!

4. Eat well when possible

Food and mood are closely connected. It’s true that eating the right foods can help us think more clearly and have more energy throughout the day… incredibly necessary for any busy shift on the ward, or out in the community! If your blood sugar level drops at work, you might find yourself feeling irritable, tired, and even depressed. This is why it’s crucial to eat regularly and to choose foods that release energy slowly (such as rice, pasta, wholegrain bread, nuts and oats) to keep your sugar levels at a steady rate. Are you usually a meat-eater? If so, have you considered switching things up and trying a veggie diet? Check out our blog including vegetarian meal ideas for a busy shift.

5. Get more sleep

If you have poor mental health, it can impact your quality of sleep, and the less sleep you have negatively affects your mental health – it’s a vicious cycle. Some people find it hard to fall asleep, others struggle to wake up in the morning, and some have interrupted sleep patterns. However, there are a few things you can do to try and improve your sleep, which should in-turn promote good mental health. Trying to establish a good sleep routine, relaxing before you go to bed, making your sleep area more calm and comfortable, and cutting down on screen time before bed are all ways that can improve your sleep.

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