By Clarie Miles.
14 years ago, my first job in Bristol was as a Healthcare Assistant at Avonmead Ward in Southmead Hospital. This was an Elderly Mental Infirm (EMI) ward which cared for patients with dementia as well as patients with other difficulties such as depression. I enjoyed singing old songs with our patients and listening to their stories of Bristol during the war. When the ceiling fell in on Leigh Ward down at Barrow Gurney in 2005, Dorian Day Hospital at Southmead was converted overnight to take the patients. I worked there whilst the patients and the staff settled into very unfamiliar surroundings. Later as a mental health support worker in North Bristol I often visited Mason, Clifton and Weston wards, taking my patients out to the old hospital canteen or the coffee shop during their stay.
Now I work for the new Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, which means I see people with depression and anxiety after they first go to their doctor. This service delivers cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other therapies like mindfulness. These are really effective in changing peoples’ lives by giving tools and techniques which help people manage their mood. Whilst I now work in Yate, some of my colleagues at Bristol Wellbeing Therapies (IAPT) are based in Southmead Hospital.
I think one of the big changes in mental health care over the past decade has been how easy it has become to access talking therapies rather than just medication. For example, you can telephone Bristol Wellbeing Therapies without needing to see your doctor first. You can also sign up to their service online and book straight on to a course. They run loads of courses helping people deal with everything from Anger to Worry – and some of them are in the Dorian Day Hospital at Southmead which was converted for yet another new use!
With such a focus on mental health now in the media and the news i’m really excited to see what changes the next decade brings for the health service and for Southmead.
Bristol Wellbeing Therapies
tel: 0117 982 3209