Mental health has always been a topic close to my heart. I don’t feel shame or fear to admit that I have struggled with depression and anxiety at various points in my life. I don’t feel ashamed when I talk about my agoraphobia and how that plunged me into a deep depression and how my life, for a good couple of years, was filled with feelings of guilt, desperation & suicidal thoughts.
But not everyone feels that they can open up – for the most part, because of the stigma surrounding mental health and the fear of being judged. A third of the public think that people with mental health issues are violent. How judgemental (and ridiculous!) is that?!
There are still a lot of people out there who are uneducated about mental health but over the last few years, there has been a huge drive in campaigns to raise awareness about mental health issues and how you can get support. More and more people are now able to ask for support when they need it and talking about mental health isn’t as taboo as it was 10 years ago, which can only be a good thing.
Think about this – 90% of people who have called in sick to work, have done so due to stress. Feeling stressed isn’t the reason they gave to their employers. 90% of people in the UK have had to have at least one day off from work due to stress but felt that they couldn’t tell the truth about it, so used excuses such as headaches, sickness, the kids etc.
We should all feel we can be open and honest about the struggles we’re facing and feel confident that people won’t judge, will do their best to get you back on track and see mental wellness as important as physical wellness.
We are very lucky to be employed by an organisation that recognises this. Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services know, that on average, 1 in 4 people will suffer from poor mental health at some point in their lives and that as an employer, they can help to support those of us who are affected in a variety of different ways. One way in which our CEOs Katie & Sarah identified, was to source some accredited training to enable us to provide support to everyone within the organisation, should they need it.
As of earlier this month, we now have the Staff Wellbeing Team of trained and accredited Mental Health First Aiders.
They are myself, Ross Mullis, Ruth Souten, Angela Kirby and Lynne Lidstone.
We all can now recognise different types of mental health problems and the effect that these problems may have on families, relationships, work and more.
We have been trained in how to listen to people who may be in a crisis and where to signpost them, should it be necessary. Although we cannot over-step professional boundaries, we can provide a non-judgmental and confidential listening ear. We can direct our colleagues on where to go for further assistance and we can keep checking in to see how you’re getting on, should they need us to.
Most importantly, we all have a genuine desire to help – If one of our colleagues are ever in a situation where they feel that you need to speak to someone, but not sure who to turn to for whatever reasons, we are all here to listen.