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Season 3 of Eavesdrop kicked off this week with an interview with key worker, Dr John Patterson. 

Lily-Jo met Dr Patterson while at her first counsellor post for the NHS. Dr Patterson is now the Chief Medical Officer for Oldham, Greater Manchester, and he spoke with Lily-Jo all about:

  • His own experience working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • How he is coping with his own mental health and well-being.
  • How he is personally witnessing the community come together. 

Here’s a brief recap of their conversation.


Lily-Jo’s Interview With Dr John Patterson


Q: Can you tell us how COVID-19 has changed the way you work?

A: “In some ways, everything is changing. This virus is just really tricky. There are lots of things about this virus that are unprecedented in terms of an illness for us at the NHS.”

“We have changed our normal structure into a structure where we can think clearly together and learn really quickly. Even though we are very familiar now with this virus, we are learning about it all the time.”

“While everything has changed, the thing is, nothing has changed. People still need to eat, and they need love, and they need mental health to be well. We need to exist in units and in community. We haven’t changed as people and what we need.”


Q: How have you been personally maintaining your mental health?

A: “It’s a real challenge isn’t it? We have never known more about how to have good mental health than the generation that we live in.”
“For myself, to be honest, I got so busy that I was falling asleep on the way home and my dietary habits got really bad. So personally, I have taken up running again, and I have made sure that I get enough sleep. I didn’t have an alcohol problem…but I have also given up alcohol.”

“I also look for the energy and strength from other people”


Q: Is there any hope or light at the end of the tunnel that we can hold on to?

A: “I think there’s lots of light, there’s lot’s of energy, and there’s lots of hope. You only really know who you are when the problem sets in. And what this says to us is that we are people who care about each other. And we are people who do want to innovate and find ways forward.”

“For me as a doctor, the most powerful question we ask – which can sometimes seem offensive in the midst of the darkness – is: What does this now make possible?”

“There is lots of hope – because I see people looking after each other.”

Final Thoughts

Dr Patterson’s interview is a wonderful reminder for us all that, despite the current crisis, we have the opportunity to witness something very special – the immense generosity, gratitude, and kindness exuded by those around us.

To stay up to date with Dr Patterson, you can follow him on Twitter @drcotovelo or check out his blog www.burntnortondiaries.co.uk.

Dr Patterson’s Book recommendation:

Want the whole story? Catch the full podcast episode on The Lily-Jo Project website here, or listen wherever you get your podcasts.

If you are in search of more mental health resources and advice, visit www.thelilyjoproject.com/#help.

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