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May 29, 2018

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Mental Health

What to do if you do come across a person in crisis?

The following is an extract taken from the blog ‘Suitable and Sufficient’. Written by Nicola Baillie, Head of Safety Assurance at West Midlands Trains. The company has recently undergone Mental Health First Aid Training, carried out by Heather Beach and Lauren Applebey from The Healthy Work Company.

The training we opted for, as just one part of our strategy – which was to train people at the sharp end – was the Mental Health First Aider course. This course that has been recognised nationally, even garnering approval from ministers who want the program rolled out through UK schools.

Our strategy for this training has been in two stages:

The initial training was delivered to senior managers with the intent not only to create competency across the different business functions, but also to help this group (who were largely members of our Mental Health Steering Group) gain a stronger knowledge base to better advocate for both our strategy and the ongoing work on destigmatising speaking about mental health.

The most recent group was more about maximising accessibility. We have been incredibly lucky in having such a huge interest from a great number of people from across the business who are for their own reasons highly motivated to do something about mental health in their local workplace. We were therefore able to pick those people that are closer to the frontline and covering as much space geographically.

“‘Hear to Listen’ pin badges at West Midland Trains.. No words, no labels, no stigma just a simple sign to show our colleagues we’re ‘Hear to Listen’. We wear them with pride and with hope. #bethechangeyouwanttosee.”

The balance of practical advice and background information had a number of positive effects that I didn’t initially expect but we are certainly reaping the benefits of: going FAR beyond simply furnishing attendees with a ‘how-to’ guide for what to do with someone in crisis. From the responses and expe of people who have took the course, four key threads emerged:

A lot of people have had what can only be described as a ‘Road to Damascus’ moment, leaving with a better understanding of their own experiences, not only a better understanding of the people around them.

Similarly, a lot of people realised a lot of preconceptions and judgements we all have been socialised into and carry around with us – even in a group that have self-selected as advocates for supporting the mental health strategy in the business, myself included!

Knowing more about what mental health and mental ill health is, makes for a better manager – it boosts confidence and has made people less afraid or awkward to ask the difficult, but relevant, questions.

This video has been used with permission of West Midlands Trains.

Lesley Heath, Safety Director at West Midlands Trains, and Heather Beach, Managing Director at The Healthy Work Company, will be hosting a seminar at Safety & Health Expo in June. The session is entitled ‘Practical considerations for implementing mental health first aid’ in the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Theatre at 12:30 on Tuesday 19 June.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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