Louisa Davies recently undertook a placement at a women’s centre…
The centre focuses on supporting women of all ages and backgrounds, many of whom suffer with mental health conditions. As a paediatric student nurse, I was looking forward to finding out more about the mental health field, but I underestimated the effect the centre would have on me, both as a student and as a person.
The centre ran a variety of classes and groups, from floristry to domestic abuse, even belly dancing! It was a world way from my previous hospital placements, where my time was normally spent making beds and following the nurses around on their medicine rounds.
But I found myself really benefiting from the positive and supportive atmosphere that the centre projected. Despite the diversity of the women attending, there was a shared understanding and acceptance that social support was the way forward.
As a student I was able to develop my communication skills, particularly around service users with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. I observed how the staff at the centre acknowledged the women’s problems, but also communicated effectively in a way that increased their confidence.
I felt privileged to witness such inspirational work, and many of women at the centre were training to become mentors themselves so that they could pass on their understanding and experiences.
As an individual, I really responded to this environment of confidence and found the ’confident you’ class very much helped me as Louisa, not just as a student nurse.
The centre showed me the importance of talking about your mental health and prioritising it. The world we live in today is so busy, and especially as a student nurse, there are always assignment deadlines looming, or placements, and it is easy to get stressed and burned out.
I attended the mindfulness relaxation sessions that took place at the centre twice a week and I enjoyed having the chance to focus on my emotional well-being and learning to accept my thoughts.
The placement helped me to think more about my own mental health and how important it is to talk and share our experiences and support each other through them.
It is quite shocking that services such as this women’s centre, and other mental health facilities, are not more widely available, as their impact is so great. In the long term, I believe community interventions would save a lot of money for the NHS and, more importantly, save lives.