On The Ward is a mental health podcast with a difference; it's recorded inside a psychiatric hospital, and features both patients and staff talking candidly about complex mental health and life in hospital.
The podcast is hosted by John Barry Waldron who is a staff nurse at St Andrew’s Healthcare. In this episode, John speaks to a patient about the importance of education and what types of things are available to patients at St Andrew's, such as vocational courses to learn new life skills, or courses which enable patients alike to gain a better understanding about mental health.
Throughout the course of his honest conversation with John, one patient explains that he himself has faced issues associated with education:
"I came up against a surprising stigma (when living in the community), and that was my education.... because I had a degree they said, 'you can't be that ill'. They said 'you're well spoken, eloquent and educated, you'll be alright', and that was very frustrating."
The patient thankfully got the treatment he required and says he is now recovering well in hospital.
John and the patient also discussed the outdated perception of secure mental health hospitals:
"Unless people have had experience of visiting, or being in a hospital, they still think of straitjackets and padded cells.
"We're living our lives in here. This is our home. And it's not just about taking your pills and talking to the shrink. There's more to everybody's lives than that."
You can listen to more episodes of the On the Ward Podcast by subscribing on Google Play or Apple Store. To listen to Episode 5 of series 2 click here.
The On the Ward podcast is the brainchild of John Barry-Waldron, a staff nurse at St Andrew's Healthcare's Essex hospital. John has worked for St Andrew's for over 15 years, and studied for a nursing degree at the University of Northampton. The podcast was one of John's university projects, and aims to challenge some of the myths and taboos around mental illness. The podcast - which is now back for a second series - provides listeners with a rare look into what life is like for patients and staff living and working at St Andrew's.