Psychiatric podcast featuring Northampton mental health patients nominated for top nursing award

‘On The Ward’ follows different mental health patients each week as they show what an average day looks like for them in a psychiatric hospital

By Megan Hillery
Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 8:30 am

A podcast made in Northampton, which follows people with complex mental health issues such as psychosis and borderline personality disorder, has been nominated for a top nursing prize.

‘On the Ward’ is hosted by mental health nurse, John-Barry Waldron, and features patients from St Andrew’s Healthcare. It has been shortlisted for the ‘Nursing in Mental Health’ category at this year’s Nursing Times Awards.

John, who created the podcast in 2019 as part of his dissertation, said: “I wanted to give a voice to those who are recovering from a complex mental health condition. At the time I was working with patients who were telling me that the stigma of mental illness has such a significant impact on their lives.

‘On the Ward’ is hosted by mental health nurse, John-Barry Waldron.

“To put that in context, a former patient once told me that when he has home leave, he would rather tell people he has been to prison than admit he has been staying in a mental health hospital. I think that says it all.”

The third series of the podcast is currently being broadcast with a new episode released every Tuesday. Each episode follows a different patient as they show John what an average day looks like for them while staying at a psychiatric hospital.

Forty-year-old Vicky, the first patient in the latest series, openly discussed her recovery journey from substance abuse, personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder - the name given to a condition which is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar.

During the recording, Vicky attended a ward round and took John to her volunteering job at a nearby wood workshop called New Life Wood.

John added: “The patients involved in our recordings have been brave to openly talk about the issues they have. The feedback we’ve had from those involved has been amazingly uplifting.

“They’ve told me they feel listened to and were excited about the prospect of the podcast helping others understand what life was really like for them. Many of them have encouraged their friends and family to listen, so they feel less fearful about visiting those who have been detained.”

The podcast has been downloaded more than 20,000 times and has featured in the Guardian, the Independent and the Pod Bible.

St Andrew’s Healthcare’s Interim CEO Oliver Shanley said: “On the Ward has been a huge success and we’re thrilled to have been nominated for this award. We firmly believe that the podcast is leading the way in breaking down typical mental health hospital stereotypes and showing listeners that just because someone may be experiencing mental health problems, does not prevent them having a voice about what is important to them.

“I would like to thank John for his commitment to the podcast and for bringing our patients’ stories to the mainstream. But, of course the biggest thank you goes to the patients themselves who have bravely agreed to participate in the podcast recordings.”

The podcast can be found via web browsers or podcast apps, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

The Nursing Times Awards will take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London on Wednesday, October 26.