When Minds Meet, Humans Heal: Why Communication is a Central Clinical and Educational Function

When Minds Meet, Humans Heal: Why Communication is a Central Clinical and Educational Function

By Alda Smith

I recently saw a video of HEABC‘s Michael McMillan’s 2016 speech at Health Talks, Canada. It struck a chord with me – not only as a professional who has a passion for social innovation in healthcare and education, but also as a daughter, granddaughter, wife and mother of three who has personally experienced the importance of tackling health and educational challenges with people. Many scholars, clinicians and social scientist are, in fact, in agreement that optimised wellbeing is co-created in the context of committed relationships where minds truly meet.

Effective communication is, however, central to building relationships that deliver compassionate and optimised services and solutions in healthcare and education. True meaning, understanding and knowledge are the result of an ongoing collaboration – a continuous meeting of the minds. In fact communication can be viewed as a central clinical (and educational) function that is at the heart of healthcare delivery (Irvine, C., Spencer, D., Rivera Colsn, E., Marcus, E., Spiegel, M., Hermann, N., Charon, R. and DasGupta, S., 2016).

But communication that has the ability to heal and change, requires participants who are empowered to share and able to receive. Albert Einstein said: “If we want to improve the world we cannot do it only with scientific knowledge…we must begin with the heart of man…the humanities & science go together. Science without the humanities is lame and humanities without science is blind. They are interdependent and have a common goal…”

Health and education systems around the world are, however, plagued by various socio-economic, psychosocial, demographic, behavioral, pathological, professional and system- or policy-driven divides. There are many barriers that prevent transformative relationships. In healthcare, for example, patients’ fear, burden of work, fear of litigation and unrealistic expectations get in the way. The discourse between those who campaign for patient experience and relationships and professionals for whom clinical excellence is often rooted in reductionist medicine, is also far from ideal.

These divides and barriers, together with an overestimation of ability amongst role players in healthcare to express, listen tointerpret and act with compassion, contribute to the breakdown of much-needed relationships and the dwindling of the aforementioned collaborations. Over time this leads to ‘compassion fatigue’, professional burnout, complications, traumatic experiences, post-traumatic stress disorder and, in severe cases, preventable mortalities.

Today I am campaigning for the humanities in healthcare and education – for greater teamwork, better communication, interdisciplinary discussions and a willingness to break down the personal and professional barriers that keep us from transforming our healthcare and education systems. True healing can only begin when we build bridges, let our minds meet and make deep fluid connections that lead us to innovative, creative, co-created meanings and solutions.

Irvine, C., Spencer, D., Rivera Colsn, E., Marcus, E., Spiegel, M., Hermann, N., Charon, R. and DasGupta, S. (2016) The Principles and Practices of Narrative Medicine. USA, Oxford University Press

Self-care 101: 5 Ways To Keep Your Cup Full As A New Mom

Let’s talk about self-care. A term so unfamiliar to a mother, seasoned or new. The demands of motherhood along with running a household and often a full-time job, most often than not have us functioning on survival mode for the better part of each day.

Image by SABPA member Tracey Baard

Here are 5 tips I found helpful and doable during my search for creating time for myself during my motherhood journey:

Find something that is ONLY yours

We greatly lack in personal space as parents and for some this might become overwhelming. Whether it’s a 10 minute walk or a coffee at your favourite coffee shop. Make time for a couple of unapologetic self-care minutes, by yourself.

  • Hydrate

Self-care means taking care of YOU. That means mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. When our bodies feel strong, our minds and emotions follow. Dehydration (Dehydration: Two Hours Affects Body, Brain (healthline.com))leads to cognitive disability which makes our daily tasks harder than it should be. So, remember to sip-sip throughout the day! Add a little sparkle to your water with some mint, cucumber and lemon.

  • Leave the housework 

Yes, you heard that right. So what if you didn’t get to the dishes today. So what if your laundry basket is full. It’s ok if you haven’t gotten around to picking up the toys yet. You are quite literally keeping a tiny human alive right now! You’re doing great, momma! Tomorrow is another day. If you’re baby is fed, cleaned and rested? Then you’ve done a great deal for the day.

  • Remember that everything is seasonal

We go through seasons in our life. Some are great, some are really hard. Once you become a mother, it stays that way forever. But the seasons in which we get to mother our children do however change. When things get difficult, which they will, just remember that this is a season and this too shall pass. Shift your focus to all the precious little moments that you have now that you might not have in the next season.

Image by SABPA member Elani van Wyk
  • Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help

We’re not suppose to do this by ourselves! Remember the saying, “it takes a village”?(https://www.exchangefamilycenter.org/exchange-family-center-blog/2021/2/4/it-take-a-village-to-raise-a-child-how-communities-can-help-raise-kids) The second part of that saying is “to raise a child”.  For thousands of years humans lived closely together in tight-knit communities to share resources, food, socialization etc. In modern day culture, we have evolved into something quite the opposite. We’ve moved further apart from one another. We’ve become isolated. We need people to help validate our struggles. Someone we trust to take the kids for the day. Someone who has experienced life to share their wisdom. Fellow parents we can relate to. We need other people in our lives.

Remember that, in order for you to be the very best mom that you can be, the very best friend and partner; you first need to be the very best YOU that you can be. Fill your cup first. No one can drink from an empty cup. 

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