Even when we’re having a good day, stress and feeling tired can mean that we’re not fully focused and can prevent us from being our best selves in the workplace and at home. We know that too much stress, burnout, and moral distress – where we are not able to care for patients in the way that we know that we need to, can lead to disengagement, frustration, and feeling psychologically and physically unwell. The covid-19 pandemic has perpetuated this. Never has being well and feeling well been of greater importance.
Much work is ongoing at the College around the organisational and structural factors influencing paramedic psychological wellbeing - how we are and how we’re doing. This includes partnering with other organisations to prevent suicide within the ambulance sector. Whilst this work continues, practically supporting paramedic wellness is also a top priority and is aligned with our strategic aims.
We are excited that funding from the Covid Healthcare Support Appeal (CHSA) has enabled us to launch today, a new wellness programme – specifically for paramedic members. Supported by an evidence-base and scientifically grounded approach, the R
reathe. programme of psychological wellness supports takes an innovative and fresh approach.
Recognising that our lives are complex and ever-changing, with twists, turns and roller-coaster moments, we know that everyone’s wellness journey is different. So, when it comes to our own psychology, there is no one approach or support that suits everyone.
This is why the RTB wellness programme offers something different. It allows members to access psychological wellness support in ways that compliments a diversity of needs.
The first of these exciting opportunities involves the Great British outdoors.
It is widely acknowledged that being in nature, in the outdoors, is rejuvenating and beneficial to wellbeing. A wide range of international scientific studies confirm this and demonstrate the healing and grounding impact of spending time in natural environments. Being outside has even been shown to enhance immune system functioning as well as increase energy levels, improve sleep, reduce blood pressure, and stress, and improve mood.
reathe. programme launches by offering paramedic members opportunity to experience the freedom of spending time exclusively in wild, natural, and beautiful destinations within the UK. In collaboration with qualified experts from Blackdog Outdoors and Mind over Mountains, we are offering a choice of day-walks, mountain/hills skills courses, and a three-day psychological wellness retreat.
Before you sign up, we encourage you to use the mental health continuum to identify where your mental health is currently at. This will help you to know if these opportunities will be most suited to you.
How to use the mental health continuum.
The mental health continuum visual illustration.
Hosted by Blackdog Outdoors accredited leaders and mental health first aiders, there are six different events to choose from – all in stunning locations across the UK. Each walk offers a little escape from daily life where you can breathe in and reconnect with the world around you, as well as meet other paramedics from around the country. The walks are most suited to those members who are ‘thriving’ or ‘surviving’, members who feel they just need a bit of time out, to get away into the open countryside, and have a breather.
You don’t need to be super-fit – these walks are of low to moderate intensity, where emphasis is on recharging, rebalancing, and enjoying rather than it being a race. There are twelve spaces available per walk. Dates are between April – September 2022. The first of these walks is on April 23rd in Sussex. More details are available here: Devils Dyke - A Wellbeing Walking Event
More dates/walks will be released shortly.
Mountain/Hills skills courses
A two-day formal course affiliated to the Mountain Training Association that will offer members the necessary skills and training to safely be able to hike in the hills and mountains of the UK., thereby equipping you with a new, positive coping strategy for your wellbeing.
This is a course that is most suited to members who are ‘thriving’ or ‘surviving’. Two different dates (in June and September 2022) and locations are available, but due to safety and course requirements, numbers are strictly limited to eight members per course. More details/ booking will follow shortly.
Facilitated by colleagues at Mind over Mountains, this is an opportunity for those members who are finding life tough and feel that their mental health is being impacted. We are offering a three-day retreat in a tranquil and secluded area of the Peak District; a safe haven where you can take a breather and invest time in you. The experts have hand-picked two stunning day walks in the hills giving opportunity for connection, calmness, self-reflection, and relaxation. During the retreat, you’ll have time for mindfulness and meditation to help you focus on the nature around you, and release stress. You’ll also have the unique experience of an evening talk from an inspirational speaker or mental health advocate. This retreat offers a safe and confidential space where participants are encouraged to access the life coaches and counsellors who will be joining the event.
Members who are ‘surviving’ or ‘struggling’; who perhaps are feeling burned out, exhausted, anxious, of low mood, have experienced trauma, or are affected by a difficult life event such as loss/ bereavement, are those who are most suited to this outdoor opportunity.
This is a unique and bespoke event for members and only 18 spaces are available. The retreat will be held on 22nd – 24th June 2022. More details and booking will be released on our website shortly.
We know that times are difficult for many right now, and financial pressures may be a barrier to spending time on ourselves, which is why each of these supports are being offered to members for free – thanks to generous funding from the CHSA.
They are not backpacking trips or boot camps. Each event is an opportunity for recuperation and rejuvenation – to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing and to enable you to feel well.
You’ll need to feel comfortable enough being in outdoor spaces with limited access to facilities during the activities. This may include limited phone signal. You’ll also need a general level of fitness that you’ll be able to walk for the duration of the event – on average, this will be around six hours per day, although depending on factors such as the weather, this may be more or less. More details are available on the events webpages.
We strongly advise that to get the most from the event, you are not booked to be at work on the same day (such as doing an evening or night shift). You need time out for you, and this is strongly the ethos of these activities.
Each event is offered on a first come – first served basis. However, if they prove popular, we may be able to add further dates in the future. Because places are limited, we suggest that members only sign up for one event. If an event is full, you will be placed onto a reserve list.
If using the mental health continuum, you identify that you are in crisis, it is really important to prioritise your wellbeing right now – seek support and talk with your employer, contact your GP, reach out to The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC), NHS Practitioner Health, your family, and/or friends.
TASC – www.theasc.org.uk
NHS Practitioner Health (England & Scotland) - www.practitionerhealth.nhs.uk
Benefits of the RTB wellness outdoor programme:
Sense of freedom, enjoyment & time out from daily life and routines
Spending time in an incredible place
Interconnectedness – with the natural environment & those around you
Feel calmer and more relaxed
Safe space to try something new
Personal empowerment & accomplishment
Trust in oneself, and in others
Increased sense of worth and personal value
Holistic benefits to physical health
‘Lift’ feelings that may have been weighing you down
Access to confidential psychological wellbeing support
If you would like further information about the RTB wellness programme, please contact Paramedic Mental Health Project Lead, Jo Mildenhall – Jo.Mildenhall@collegeofparamedics.co.uk
or our events team – firstname.lastname@example.org