Friday, 19 May 2017

"I wasn't prepared for just how profound it would be" - my experience of a Schwartz round

I attended a Schwartz round last week as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.  I had some idea of what to expect but I wasn't prepared for just how profound an experience it would be. 

I was asked to join the panel, along with three other colleagues, to share our stories about when we have experienced a difficulty or pressure and how we came out the other side, linked to the theme of 'survive or thrive'.  

I can’t disclose the names of the people on the panel or their stories because Schwartz rounds are completely confidential sessions.  What I can say is that each person’s story was completely different but there was still something to relate to from each experience.  

This included feelings of parental guilt when balancing work and life, being overwhelmed by workload or expectations, dealing with a major incident and experiencing a crisis at home.  All of the stories were incredibly moving; I was taken aback by how every single one of us could relate to the notion of surviving or thriving, no matter what role or position, and this was felt by everyone in the room (around 40 staff members).  

It really was a powerful session and made me think more about my own mental wellbeing, as well as how we support staff across the Trust who are experiencing a difficult time at home or in work.  After all, we are all human and could do with reminding ourselves that work is just one part of who we are.

If you haven’t ever been to a Schwartz round before I really would recommend it.  You don’t have to be on the panel or participate in the discussion if you didn’t want to, you can still go and listen and hopefully learn something.  Teams and departments can also request a Schwartz round to address a particular theme or issue, just get in touch via: 

Staff wellbeing service 
The need for staff wellbeing services has been clearly identified across the Trust, with stress and mental health related staff sickness accounting for at least half of all occupational health referrals.  Last year, 115,882 working days were lost due to staff sickness! 

The staff wellbeing service was launched in September 2014 after the Trust decided to use our in-house expertise to deliver psychological therapies to staff, rather than outsourcing to an external provider. The aim was to deliver a completely confidential free service to all employees, offering a wide range of interventions to help support staff through mild to moderate psychological difficulties that were impacting on their functioning at work.

The service has proven to be a great success - 507 staff were seen during the first year, with 19% supported back in to work and 72% helped to remain in work.  The service now receives around 40 referrals on average each month. 

The Executive Directors have recently reviewed a business case to support the staff wellbeing service and based on the results, we were delighted to approve permanent funding to ensure it continues to provide vital mental health support to the workforce. 

If you want to know more about the staff wellbeing service, there is lots of information on the Trust intranet - you have to be on the network to access this link

Keith Walker
Executive Director of Operations

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