MGH Let’s Listen: “We need to be at our best when our patients visit us at their worst. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes today to pause, talk and listen. ”

In September 2010, ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ began a new conversation about mental health in Canada. ‘MGH Let’s Listen’ is a Hospital series dedicated to listening to the stories of healthcare providers working and caring for patients experiencing mental health issues in the Canadian healthcare system.

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By: Carmine Stumpo, Vice President, Programs at Michael Garron Hospital

My name is Carmine Stumpo and I am the Vice President, Programs at Michael Garron Hospital. I’ve had the privilege of working here for more than 20 years, with many different teams across the organization.  Every day provides new challenges and I am inspired by the stories of our staff, physicians and volunteers working to make a difference in the community we serve.

Bell Let’s Talk reminds us how important it is to talk and I would like to share a few thoughts on supporting mental health within healthcare.

Read the full #MGHLetsListen series:
Cheryl Nelson-Singh, Clinical Resource Leader: The impact of social, self-stigma
Lois Didyk, Social Worker: Mental health in marginalized communities
Sarah Bingler, Occupational Therapist: The power of self-care

‘We need to talk it out – and more importantly, we need to listen’

We know healthcare is hard work. We need to be at our best when our patients visit us at their worst.  We need to be compassionate and kind in our approach even when we ourselves are having a bad day. How do we manage this? We need to talk it out and more importantly, we need to listen. I would like to share a few examples of this.

I am very proud of the work we do at MGH for workplace violence prevention.  Despite all our best efforts, our staff still are victims of physical and verbal abuse. It is so important to be able to talk about fears, anxiety and distress openly. It is our job to listen to the people who may have been victims of workplace violence. We will continue to look for ways to make our workplace safer, but it starts with creating a culture where we can talk about these and other stresses.  I try as best I can to create an environment where people feel it is OK to share their concerns and as an organization, we listen.

‘We are never alone in the work we do’

Healthcare today also means making tough choices.  This leaves people at all levels of the organization wondering if they made the right decisions, wishing they could do more or worrying will they be criticized for the choices they made.  The discomfort of having to make these decisions every day can weigh very heavily on individuals to the point of burnout.  I find reaching out to a colleague or friend to talk it out helps me get perspective.

As much as we are busy trying to “fix” everything wrong in the system, sometimes we just need to hit the “pause” button, and just talk.  We are never alone in the work we do and talking to others reminds us of the strength we have together.

I continue to support Bell Let’s Talk for so many reasons and I encourage everyone to take a few minutes today to pause, talk and listen.

Related
Access mental health services at MGH – Family Support Program
Boosting mental health in young children: Interview with Dr. Krista Lemke

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