The impact of day-to-day life on our mental health has never been more pertinent, and with Mental Health Awareness Week starting on the 18th May it’s a timely reminder of the need for us to focus on the importance of taking care of ourselves and those around us.
As a team, we’ve always looked out for each other, formally and informally, regularly checking-in to make sure everyone’s OK, and doing what we can to offer support and a helping hand. But we’ve always done this from an instinctive perspective, using leadership skills, coaching skills, and general kindness, but we were super-conscious that none of us actually had the formal knowledge to be able to identify when someone may be suffering and to know where to signpost them.
And so – in typical Zen fashion – we decided to do something about that and a few weeks ago (prior to lockdown) Chris and I took part in a two day intensive Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course delivered by the truly amazing Kerry Mitchell who is the Wellbeing Manager at Paycare, a not-for-profit Health Cash Plan provider based in Wolverhampton (and one of our gorgeous clients).
Kerry guided us on a journey of discovery, looking at our own stress triggers and individual frames of reference, the (sadly) enduring societal stigmas around mental health, the influences of mental health, and an exploration of the many different types of disorders and associated risk factors.
I’ve personally always been fascinated by mental health (in another life I think I could have been a therapist or psychiatrist), and so deep-diving into this subject was literally my idea of heaven! From personality disorders and psychosis through to depression and suicide, the course (which was a great mix of theory, discussion, and video case studies) provided Chris and I with a wealth of insight into all aspects of mental illness, posed many questions, and stimulated a great deal of conversation and debate.
Perhaps the greatest take-away, and something that will be a hugely valuable tool for us both moving forwards (both professionally and personally), was the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan, which outlines the steps to be taken should we believe someone needs help. Having this framework in our armour will help us not only start those conversations, but effectively respond to someone in a crisis – in the same way we would if someone was experiencing a physical health emergency.
With the current situation very likely to have had an impact on the mental health of many, many people already, it’s crucial that as employers (and colleagues, friends, and parents) we have the knowedge to spot the signs that someone may be struggling.
Would you know the signs of depression amongst your colleagues or loved ones? If someone was displaying signs of alcohol or drug dependency, would you know how to approach the situation? If you’d like to know more about the MHFA course and how it can give you the confidence to help someone in need, we’d love to put you in touch with Kerry, so do drop us a line…