Neonatal staff share supportive tips

Our research with neonatal workers shows that their mental health is impacted by their work. Here staff working on neonatal units anonymously share their supportive tips for all neonatal workers.

Working in a neonatal unit can feel overwhelming, especially during COVID-19. You're not alone if you're feeling stressed or unsupported on the neonatal unit. However you're feeling, seeking support and practising these wellbeing tips may be a helpful first step.

Turning to your colleagues for support

Although this is not always possible, having someone who understands what you are going through can be a huge help. Nearly half of the neonatal staff in our research said that a supportive workplace or team members makes a massive difference to their well-being and feeling valued.

"I think people are embarrassed sometimes to ask for support but our unit has a fantastic support network if you ask for help."

De-brief after a stressful situation

Sometimes taking time to reflect can ensure that you are processing what happens on the unit. A few neonatal workers in our research noted that de-briefing is now a regular part of their unit's routine, no matter what's happened on their shift.

"Focusing on positive reinforcement helps me - talking about the good things and opportunities to de-brief. We have a great 'appreciation station' for praising other people’s good work."

Practising self-care activities

Almost a third of staff working on neonatal units said that taking part in self-care activities helps to support their mental health and well-being. Specifically, the neonatal workers in our research mentioned yoga, meditation, mindfulness and massage as being helpful routines.

"We have regular mindfulness sessions in the neonatal unit for staff, provided by our clinical psychologist for free. It helps with staff morale and team building."

Finding what works for you

The neonatal staff in our research sought help in different ways, from the chaplaincy service on their unit to counselling, coaching to resilience training. What works for you might be different to your colleagues, but trying different ways of support can be helpful to find the one that's best for you.

"I think it's very important that mental health support within the workplace is prioritised, it's good to talk about experiences, outcomes and to listen to other points of view."

Life as a neonatal nurse: it’s more than just cuddling babies

"I have experienced first-hand staff shortages within the NHS and it can be stressful for everyone involved. I often feel like I’m not able to give the time, attention, support and care that the patients and their parents deserve."
Nicola's story

Most neonatal staff work on a unit where they have no access to formal support for their mental health and well-being, even though our research shows that nearly all staff believe this formal support would be beneficial.

Helpful resources for mental health and well-being

  • This free online resilience course has been specifically designed for the additional pressures that working during a healthcare crisis can bring.
  • NHS employers has a comprehensive resource hub full of online tools and signposting for a whole range of different issues which may affect mental health and well-being.
  • This 'how are you feeling today' toolkit can be used by staff to identify how they are feeling, and what resources may be helpful for you specifically.

We are hugely grateful for everything that neonatal workers do to help babies in neonatal care. Please get in touch at hello@bliss.org.uk for further information and support. #ThankYouNeonatalWorkers