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Posted on Oct 25 2021 by Fiona Bailey

A podcast created by a mental health nurse who interviews his service users and colleagues in a bid to break the stigma of mental health has reached 20,000 downloads.

John-Barry Waldron, Senior Staff Nurse who has worked at Northampton’s St Andrew’s Healthcare for 15 years, was inspired by the people he cares for and started making On the Ward in 2019.

The 40-year-old said: “I work with people from all walks of life and they all have their own story to tell. No journey is the same and I wanted to find a way of bringing their stories to the forefronts of people’s minds.

“When understood, mental illness is not frightening. It can happen to any one of us, at any time and wouldn’t you want people around you to understand and empathise? The podcast was launched to give our patients a voice, so they could talk about their complex mental health needs in a safe space.”

The podcast was an instant hit with staff, patients and members of the public who were keen to know more about what goes on behind the doors of St Andrew’s, which also has sites in Essex and Birmingham.

John added: “What people need to realise is we’re in 2021 now. Straitjackets and padded cells are the stuff of horror movies not modern mental health care and the therapy we offer patients now about coproduction and partnership.. They’re people and we treat them like people. We ask them what they want, how we can help them to get better and then we do it.”

The podcast, which has just hit its 20,000th download, is set to make a comeback with its third series later this year. This time, John has gone mobile and is spending the day with a new patient each week to show what goes on in a typical day for each person.

He said: “What people don’t realise is, our patients are busy people. In addition to their therapy sessions, which are incredibly important for their recovery, they also have access to music sessions, woodwork, volunteering within the community, cooking and education, to name but a few activities. There’s so much that goes on at St Andrew’s to help re-integrate these people back into community and I really wanted to use our podcast platform to highlight this.”

All those who contribute have chosen to take part in the podcast. Before any recordings are made their clinical team are approached and asked to provide guidance on whether the patient is well enough to make an informed decision about being involved.

St Andrew’s Deputy CEO Jess Lievesley said: “To have reached 20,000 downloads is an incredible achievement for John and the podcast team. I’m thrilled that so many people have been interested in finding out what goes on at St Andrew’s and learning about all the positive work we do with our patients.

“We work extremely hard here to ensure our patients make a healthy recovery and are able to return to the community and go onto live happy and fulfilled lives. We believe our podcast has shown how we do this and has given our patients a voice so they can talk about their health conditions, their lives and plans for the future. I would like to take this opportunity to thank John for his commitment to the cause and I look forward to hearing the third series of On the Ward.”

To listen, click here.