What should I do if I’m feeling stressed or unwell?

Managing your own health and well being effectively is a hugely important aspect of completing your training successfully and something that you should be mindful of throughout the programme.


The demands on your time and your ability to remain effective and resilient during your training will be tested and so it is important that you are conscious of how this is impacting on you and that you act on any signs of stress or ill health as soon as possible.

Remember you are training to work in healthcare which in itself can be a challenging environment, so any tactics you employ during your training will only serve to help you in your future career.


Where can I find some help?

If you feel stressed or unwell and need some help managing your health and well being, start with some of the following suggestions:

  • Talk to your training officer/supervisor/line manager if you are experiencing issues with the training or if there are personal issues which you feel are impacting on your ability to progress in the training.
  • Refer yourself or ask your training officer/line manager to refer you to occupational health, particularly if the issues are causing you to miss time at work or you feel may have a longer term impact on your training and/or health. They should also be able to direct you to support services which may be locally available.
  • Go to your GP and talk to them about the support options available to you such as accessing counselling or any other medical support you may need.
  • Check to see if there are any support courses available from your employer – many employers offer staff access to managing stress or other useful courses so there could be something locally available to you that might help.
  • Talk to the School – we are here to help and advise you.
  • Talk to your University – they are there to help and advise you.
  • Access online resources or services – there are many sources of support available some of which are listed below.
  • Talk to your family and friends – it always helps to talk, even if they don’t have a full appreciation of the programme – don’t hold it all in and try to cope on your own.
  • Talk to your fellow trainees or contact your local trainee network. They will have a good understanding of the challenges you are experiencing relating to the training and can offer valuable advice and peer support to help you.

Who should I notify of a sickness/leave of absence

You must notify your employer if you are off sick. However, the School and your regional Health Education England office, should be notified of any leave of absences, which could have a potential impact on funding. This is the responsibility of your training officer, who must pass the relevant information on to the School and Commissioners.

For example:

  • Maternity/paternity/adoption leave
  • Absence or a series of absences that will impact on a trainees’ salary (6 weeks absence or more)
  • Wellbeing concerns that will significantly impact on a trainee’s progress, and further advice and support is needed

How can I help myself stay well?

Your training programme is demanding, coping with that as well as life in general may be difficult at times. Try to keep the following in mind if you start feeling overwhelmed.

  • Be organised – make sure you have a training plan in place and that you complete the activities of your programme in a timely way. If you leave it to the last minute you will only be putting undue stress and pressure on yourself so plan ahead where you can.
  • Communicate –  if you are struggling then tell someone, you are not alone and there are a lot of resources available to you (take a look through the suggestions above). Use them and don’t be afraid to say when you are finding things difficult. We can’t help you if you don’t tell us there is a problem.
  • Stay active – all health providers will tell you that exercise is a good combater of stress. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you build that into your routine to help you cope with the demands that life places on you.
  • Network – forming networks and communicating with others whether that be friends, colleagues or fellow trainees is important to help you manage your training. Your trainee reps work hard to be able to offer networking opportunities, so make sure you access them by registering with the network and attending events where possible.
  • Be mindful – of yourself and others. Be aware of your own mind and body and try to recognise when you are not coping. For example lack of sleep, loss of appetite, increased intake of alcohol or drugs, sudden feelings of anxiety or stress in circumstances that you wouldn’t normally find stressful – there are more that will be personal to you. There are many resources available which will help you in coping with feelings of stress or anxiety such as meditation, yoga or talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy. Try a few things and find out what works for you to give you some peace of mind.
  • Be proactive – in managing your own health and well being. Only you know when things are becoming too much, so request support early, don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure you do communicate where there are problems that are affecting you.

Last updated on 17th April 2024