Jonty's Story: A GP's perspective on mindfulness
Reaching 30 should have been a highlight. I was progressing well in an incredibly fulfilling career as GP, I had good friends and had no particular money worries.
I should have felt a sense of achievement but instead, in my mind, I felt stuck. I was unhappy and didn't know why. I didn't feel like I was depressed and I knew I didn't need to take any medication but I also realised that I was not going to be able to untangle the knot in my mind.
I wanted to find some way of working with my mind. So I began to investigate meditation as a technique to settle my mind and it was through this that I came across Mindfulness.
Like most people when I first heard about meditation I made a whole range of assumptions. As a GP I try to take a more scientific approach and I wanted something that I could question and that could offer me some evidence of its benefits, both personally and professionally.
From a personal perspective I can testify to the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, and its ability to help people like me, who don't necessarily have a mental health diagnosis but may experience stress, anxiety or unhappiness at times. As a GP I am also convinced by the increasing amount of clinical evidence that supports the potential for this practice in the treatment of patients with mental health problems.
I always try to take an objective, evidence-based stance to the treatments I suggest to patients and I was pleased when the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recognised mindfulness as a cost-effective intervention to help prevent relapse in people with depression.
Mindfulness has enormous potential to improve the health of our minds as a nation. People who practice mindfulness have been shown to manage physical symptoms better and get ill less often. They are also more productive at work and generally lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. The benefits of this to both the individual and society as a whole are potentially enormous.