Validation is crucial. You need to reflect back how they feel, what their emotions are, and respect that. That can be hard, because what is upsetting or making someone else anxious might not be something that affects you at all. We’re all different.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen De Gabrielle.
Stephen is an experienced Health Systems specialist, with expertise in systems integration software development, systems management, project management, and business analysis — all within a clinical setting. He has a demonstrated history of working in the healthcare and library sectors, and joined Epro to become the bridge between the development team and customers. Stephen is a continuous learner, and has recently added skateboarding to his roster of skills!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Ever since I was a child, I have had a strong interest in science and technology. That has brought me to working in the world of tech, mostly in universities and libraries in Australia, and after a period of travelling, I ended up falling in love with a British woman and moving to London — which was absolutely the right decision. England has some beautiful cities, and my wife is now the Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine at London North West University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. I am the luckiest man in the world.
I started working for UCL on a contract, and then transitioned into project management in the NHS. I had my first experience of Epro at Ealing Hospital (now part of the London North West University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust) using discharge summaries. Epro was one of the many IT systems I supported and managed, including cancer tracking and sexual health, and I have performed a variety of other roles with other systems since then.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Recently, I have read Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed, and was particularly struck by the story of the medical error that prompted a change in the way that medical checklists operate within surgery. It was recommended to me by Dr. Adam Towler, the founder of our company here at Epro, and it’s the most striking book in my mind at the moment.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”?
Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- People in the NHS, including my family members, are working their hardest and doing their best to make things safe. My wife is a doctor and I see this pandemic from her perspective. Yes, it’s hard, but they are all doing incredible work.
- Epidemiologists, other public health specialists, and immunologists have done great work. In just over a year of identifying the virus, we have vaccines which will make a real difference.
- The word is getting out about taking up the vaccine, and people are getting them. You can have all the science and technological insight in the world, but you’ve got to act on them. People are doing it, they’ve accepted the vaccine, which is so important.
- I’ve seen so much human resilience! Though the world has changed, so much of humanity has embraced remote working. There are many industries which have continued and others which have received support, and I’ve been blown away with the resilience of humanity.
- There have been some positive results from the pressures of the virus. We are emitting less greenhouse gases, we’re starting to re-appreciate nature again — we’re learning the impact of more walks and fewer biscuits! Admittedly we(I) might be failing on the biscuits right now but we are going in the right direction.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Stay calm yourself. You can’t calm someone else if you can’t stay calm yourself, so make sure that you take deep breaths and ensure you can focus on the other person, not yourself.
- Try to put yourself in their shoes, and see it from their perspective. This can be hard to do, but if you can, it gives you the insight to communicate with them in a meaningful way.
- Listen! Communication isn’t just talking. It’s about listening, and ensuring that that person is absolutely aware that they are your priority in that moment.
- Try to get to the core of what’s upsetting them. There can be surface-level things that can easily distract, or sometimes it’s terribly obvious — but not always. Take the time to dig deeper.
- Validation is crucial. You need to reflect back how they feel, what their emotions are, and respect that. That can be hard, because what is upsetting or making someone else anxious might not be something that affects you at all. We’re all different.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Exercise! Entirely underrated. Even just going for a walk outside, can make a real difference. Getting your body moving so important. While it doesn’t solve the problems that you are facing, it really helps with the anxiety, and it’s still something that we can do even during a pandemic. If it’s raining, put on a raincoat!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
It’s not really a life lesson quote, but I’m often reminded of a book title by an American physicist, a big public figure, Richard Feynman: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.
There are so many new things to find in the world! There are so many new ideas, which is something that always makes me happy. Whether it’s finding out something new, learning something — could be around medicine, politics, distant stars exploding and black holes! Even the things around us that we almost don’t even notice, like bees! There are so many things to find out, and it doesn’t matter what you decide to explore.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Mental health affects everyone; everyone has a mental health problem at some point in their lives. For comparison, cancer directly affects approximately 50% of us. Mental health charities do incredible work, but they struggle to get public or charity funding. There is no ‘cute’ factor within mental health; no kittens to put on an ad campaign. It’s not pretty when someone is facing struggles.
In a way, you can consider the prison service as effectively the largest mental health accommodation service. We need to think differently and think better about this.
What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!