Using the inspiration of Tools of the Trade, this current project was initiated by Dr Martina Balaam of Edinburgh University, sparked by the Nursing Now Global campaign and plans for the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020. She brought together Professor John Gillies, the Scottish Poetry Library and nursing leaders representing, the University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University, Napier University and the Queens Nursing Institute Scotland, to form a steering group from which an Editorial Board has been formed. This includes nursing and midwifery students and includes distinguished individuals in poetry, nursing, midwifery and medicine.
The occupational stress associated with the nursing and midwivery professions is increasingly recognised and nurse/midwifery absenteeism is a significant global problem. Indeed, international nursing staff show an unprecedented increase in distress anxiety and depression. Occupational stress is increasingly recognized as a major risk factor for a range of negative health outcomes including, anxiety, depression, elevated blood pressure and increased stress hormone production. These stressors in a nursing context relate in particular to high workload, time pressures and low support. In addition, through their work nurses and midwives play a central role in the mental health of both current and future generations of workforces in Europe. Their mental health directly effects the wellbeing of others, and indirectly as role models in taking care of their own mental health.
In the current context of a global pandemic we believe more than ever in the importance and urgency of compassionate initiatives which promote nurses’ and midwives’ wellbeing. Compassion is a profound human mechanism that works with the opposite mechanisms of loneliness and mental distress strengthening and healing individuals and communities. Compassion though is incomplete if we do not include ourselves, with self-compassion an important prerequisite for the mental health and work functioning of nurses and midwives. The benefits of self-compassion on people’s overall wellbeing is also documented as leading to improved productivity at work, better physical health and as a consequence less health care uptake, and having more meaningful relationships. Indeed, cultivating compassion promotes social sustainability that fosters creativity, innovation, and positive regard, and facilitates social connections, which are a key resource for individual and societal wellness.
In light of this, a poetry anthology would gift newly qualified nurses and midwives a companion of poems intended to provide both support, comfort and inspiration. The poems themselves explore the meaning of nursing, midwifery and compassion in order to promote our new nurses’ self-care and wellbeing. Nursing has a long history working with the humanities which will inform the selection of poems for this new anthology, twinning arts and health. In addition, nurses and midwives are promoting compassion through poetry across virtual media to provide support in these challenging times and we would hope to also draw on some of these. You can see some of these videos at the QNIS YouTube channel HERE
The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland and the Royal College of Midwives are sponsoring the project – we are still looking for more so get in touch with project coordinator Samuel Tongue if you would like more details: firstname.lastname@example.org