As 2021 draws to a close I am really excited to tell you that GRIT is hosting some very special guests. Through the new NHS initiative to employ more social prescribers and Health and wellbeing (HWB) coaches to create bespoke care plans and empower patients we are hosting two adolescent and young person HWB coaches who will work in a unique way in close contact with schools and GP surgeries. This is a pilot scheme and no doubt there will be many ups and downs as we work to create a new service that supports young people at the moment they need support using the coaching principles.
It can be difficult to grasp the concept of what a coach is and how it differs to a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor. Our new coaches do not have a background in mental health – this is a conscious decision as they are not there to diagnose or prescribe. We have a blank canvas and we want to work in a way that encourages a young person to find their own solutions and develop their own resilience.
The best way I can describe coaching is this. Prior to my decision to train as a GP I had aspirations to become an obstetrician. However, I struggled with anxiety during this training, I think some of this comes from the feeling of having had a mental health problems as a teenagers which made it difficult to get into medical school I felt a need to over compensate to make up for my ‘ failings’, putting more pressure on myself. To cut a long story short, as this isn’t war and peace, I ended up working in rural South Africa in a maternity unit where I learnt a lot about delivering babies. I am grateful for that experience and the knowledge it gave me that I could be as good as anyone else. However, I actually think it taught me more about coaching and what that stands for. It was important for me to learn some of the language and I quickly learnt the greeting Sawubona. It means more than hello. It means 'I see you, exactly as you are, with all of your perfections and flaws and as I stand before you I ask myself how can I best serve you today’
The person replies back “sawubona’ – I see you - and the relationship in that moment in times becomes one of acceptance of the other exactly as they are and of equality. This is everything that a true coaching relationship should be. When a young person is being coached they should feel seen and accepted exactly as they are. There is equality -this is not someone with power to diagnose them, decide on their future or mark their homework. There is no judgement here. The aim of the coach is to support that young person in reaching their full potential and to become excited about all of the endless possibilities that lay before them at this time in their life.
We have really lucked out with the appointment of our coaches Jo and Conor, who I think will be brilliant. I am looking forward to introducing you to them at the beginning of next year.
I end 2021 feeling hopeful and excited. GRIT has always said that we wanted to change the system and provide support to young people when they need it. With the appointment of the HWB coaches we have the opportunity to do so. We anticipate it will be hard work at times as we integrate GRIT into working with the HWB coaches but so worth it. I’d also like to thank you all for your continued support and keeping GRIT going through the last 2 years. You are the reason GRIT has been able to continue. WE hope you all have a very lovely Christmas and we wish you a peaceful and healthy 2022.