Today is Time to Talk Day, so we asked Dr Hazel Harrison, creator of our brand new series called 'The Art of Listening', for tips on how to talk about mental health.
Christine, you’re Unmind’s newest content creator - what was it like writing your first Series?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and creating materials for clients and I’d co-written a manual to complement the work our team do in our pain clinic but had always felt that a paper manual was a bit dry and old fashioned. It’s really exciting that Unmind has the technology to make an application that’s interactive, easy to use and nice to look at. I really enjoyed creating the different types of content for the series.
You work in a specialist Pain Clinic in the NHS - what happens there?
The service is made up of different health care professionals who all specialise in working with people who have long term pain problems. There are doctors, physiotherapists, clinical psychologists and nurses. Most people referred to us will work with two or more of the team at the same time so that we can put our different sets of skills together. Sometimes we work one-to-one with clients but I think the most helpful thing that we offer is our nine-week group programme. It’s not always possible to fully control pain so our aim is to help people to get fitter and stronger, and to live fuller lives in spite of their pain problems.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your clinical work?
It would have to be witnessing people getting back to doing things that they love, which their minds had convinced them that they could no longer do. All of the people I work with have very real restrictions on their life due to pain but just like the rest of us they can also caught up in fears and worries and this creates yet another layer of restriction. It’s great to see people gain faith in their body again and re-engage with what’s important to them.
Many people might imagine that pain is a physical problem and not something that psychology can address - what would you say to them?
Pain is absolutely a physical problem but unfortunately it can’t always be cured by medical treatments or traditional physiotherapy. Pain can turn people’s lives upside down and psychologists can help people to come to terms with changes in their physical body and find ways to live the best life possible even though they may have pain.
Tell us one fun fact about yourself!
I started writing this Persistent Pain Series when I was fairly far through pregnancy and my daughter made a surprise arrival a couple of weeks early! It's been wonderful becoming a new mum but it meant it took a lot longer to finish the series than I’d planned!
If you'd like to learn more about Christine, you can find her LinkedIn profile here.