Blog: The importance of supporting staff: Suicide rate has links to turnover of mental health nurses

We are all full of stress at times. We can all walk a fine line between coping and not coping with life. I know I certainly have been on that line, sometimes stepping from one side to another, desperately trying to spend more time on the ‘coping’ side. Having self awareness of your emotions, but also genuine empathy, support and understanding often enables you carry on in situations that were more than you thought you could cope with.

Conversely, feeling unsupported and alone, can be isolating and in the world of health and social care where emotional labour can be heavy, it is not surprising that educated, compassionate professionals leave the profession or at least move organisations, rather than ‘go under’.

In the Nursing Times article published yesterday, a report was highlighted stating that:

Mental health services with higher levels of staff turnover have higher patient suicide rates, according to UK researchers.

The study found suicide rates were higher in mental health trusts with the highest levels of staff turnover, especially for nursing, suggesting the importance of organisational factors.

So not only do the staff suffer an emotional cost when the organisational culture is not set up to support their psychological well-being. Financial cost to the organisation with such a high staff turn over is also added to the mix. Yet this report suggests there is another cost, the mental well-being and lives of patients.

I won’t beat around the bush here….this is my passion and what I do training in, along with former nurse and friend Vanessa Carter. Kind of  a give away with the company name of C&C Empathy Training isn’t it?! Empathy envoy blog too is hardly subtle either!  So it won’t shock you to know that I am big on empathy of others and have been ever since I can remember. I have seen the affect of its presence and of its absence. I have studied it academically for over 20 years. But, here is the crux of the matter for me. Having stepped over the wrong side of that ‘fine line’ on a personal level, most significantly, after losing a child and all the life long implications that overwhelmed my family, let alone all the questions that I needed answering, I had something that protected me. Something that I have no doubt, even 13 years later, that saved me.

Having already studied counselling, I had my own self awareness during those times to analyse and work out complex emotions.  Importantly though I had a strong sense of the care of others, empathic, supportive care that helped my very fragile world fit with theirs still. They worked with me rather than expecting me to suppress my emotions. They worked to my strengths and as tough as it was, it worked.  In having a few empathic people around me that worked with the circumstances of my life, rather than ignoring them, was a very powerful skill. This, I have no doubt, was an intrinsic part of my very happy survival.

As organisations and leaders, those who work with them (their staff) to make the organisation they lead effective, successful and with integrity, need to create a culture that emulates those attributes to their staff first and foremost. Failing to do this, as this report demonstrates, can not only negatively affect the staff and their well-being, but have further far reaching consequences.

Tomorrow: The 3 Core Conditions that can make a difference.

Original News Source:


Using Mindfulness and Emotional Development to Promote Staff Well-being



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s