Seeking help for stress at its onset can prevent the issue taking its toll on your health and professional life, says Pharmacist Support manager Diane Leicester-Hallam
Stress [as highlighted by the C+D Salary Survey 2015] accounts for a lot of the calls and emails we receive here at Pharmacist Support – occasionally from very distraught individuals. Unfortunately, by the time some people get in touch with us, their problems have escalated to a point where they find themselves, for example, undergoing disciplinary proceedings or the General Pharmaceutical Council may have become involved.
Prolonged stress is known to have a negative health impact. It is linked to a range of medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, ulcers, skin disorders and depression, and has a range of symptoms including aggression, irritability, sleep problems and lack of appetite.
When it comes to stress, it is important to recognise the signs, to try to understand why you feel the way you do and to do something about it. Talking to someone about how you're feeling is a great first step. That could be someone at work (if you feel comfortable doing so): a manager, colleague, member of the HR team or your union.
Problems don't normally just go away on their own and the longer they are left, usually the worse things get
Some people prefer, however, to speak to a person not related to the situation and independent from their workplace. This could be a friend or relative or perhaps one of the charity's Listening Friends – trained volunteer pharmacists who understand the pressures of the job and provide callers with a confidential listening ear. Then, of course, there are organisations such as the Samaritans.
People often feel relieved to have spoken to someone about their problems. We find, in many cases, that when they contact us it is the first time they have openly discussed their issues. Talking alone may not resolve the issue, but it can be a first step in identifying the options available and starting to deal with the problem. Problems don't normally just go away on their own and the longer they are left, usually the worse things get.
Much of the charity's work aims to assist in the relief of stress and we have developed a factsheet on the subject that gives further information and suggests some ways of helping cope with stress.
We recognise that many of our service users will require a responsive service to assist them in times of difficulty and we are committed to continuing to provide that. Howevew, we also recognise the substantial benefit of being able to provide a service that can assist users to avoid reaching a crisis point in many instances. This tertiary approach is recognised universally as best practice in the provision of support and we are following this up with newer initiates, such as our Wardley Wellbeing workshops.
Diane Leicester-Hallam is the manager of charity Pharmacist Support. The charity can be contacted on 0808 168 2233 for general enquiries and its Listening Friends helpline is on 0808 168 5133
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