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World Mental Health Day

Group, 8th October 2021


Sunday 10th October marks World Mental Health Day and at Camlin, we are aware of how important it is to ensure our employees look after their mental health. People can simultaneously spend the most time, and get the most stressed at their workplace, so it is crucial that we as employers make sure our staff receive support for mental health issues when they need to, and that we do what we can to ensure they maintain good mental health in the first place. That’s why we have appointed mental health ‘first aiders’, members of our staff, who are there to lend a listening ear or help out any staff who are struggling. we’ve spoken to Colin Brew and Stuart Rainey, two of our mental health first aiders for a bit more information on what their role involves, as well as their own tips for looking after your mental health.

Colin Brew

What is the role of the mental health first aiders at Camlin?

The main role is to provide additional support to people experiencing mental health problems at work. We act as a confidential point of contact for all employees and help agree how best to deal with the situation they are facing.

Why did you decide to become a mental health first aider?

I have a personal interest in this area and recognise its importance, having experienced issues both personally and within my family. The importance of having someone to speak to as early as possible who has been trained in how to deal with situations can be key in helping prevent things escalating.

In my role it was becoming increasingly common to have employees speaking with me in relation to a wide range of mental health issues. I was concerned that I didn’t have the required level of expertise to deal with the issues I was facing. You wouldn’t take on the role of a normal first aider without appropriate training so I felt it was important to ensure I had the correct skills to enable me to provide suitable support and guidance in this area.

Do you have to undergo any specific training to become a mental health first aider?

I took a two-day course with Health Matters to become certified in MHFA. The course was very informative with lots of practical examples and guidance on how to deal with a wide range of scenarios. One of the key things was to recognise your limitations as a first aider. Similar to normal first aiders you are there to provide initial help. A key element of the role is to know when matters need escalated and professional help is required.

How do you think the company and its staff have benefitted from having mental health first aiders on board?

I am hopeful that this has provided support to both staff and managers in dealing with mental health issues in work. It can still be a difficult area for people to talk about and open up to colleagues or managers. Having some designated people to speak with can help stop issues being brushed under the carpet and potentially escalating if not dealt with at the outset. We can’t solve all the problems but we can provide initial support and help when needed. I think we can continue to do more in this area and would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a MHFA to let a member of the People Team know.

What do you do to look after your own mental health?

I’m not ashamed to admit I have had issues in this area so I have to keep a few things in place to look after my own mental wellbeing. Regular exercise is a key element for me. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly strenuous, a morning or lunchtime walk built into my daily routine really helps. Another big thing is connecting with others, meeting for coffee and a chat really helps me keep perspective on things. Without getting too deep and meaningful I think it is important to have “real” conversations if and when appropriate. I also really enjoy the mindfulness sessions that Camlin run. They often provide a moment of calm within a busy day and give some really practical tips and techniques to ensure I look after my mental wellbeing.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who was struggling with their mental health right now?

Its really difficult to give one piece of advice that will suit everyone if I’m honest. There are often so many factors that can contribute to a person having issues in this area. It sounds a little simple but I really think speaking to someone about your struggles is really the first step in helping you deal with them. Its amazing how many people still feel they can’t speak to friends, family or colleagues about this. Don’t continue to struggle alone just opening up will really help and be the first step on the road to recovery and stop things escalating further.

Stuart Rainey

What is the role of the mental health first aiders at Camlin?

Its basically a confidential point of contact for anyone who thinks they may need some help. We can hopefully point them in the right direction.

Why did you decide to become a mental health first aider?

As a Health and Safety officer, I thought it was a vital part of the role. Welfare is a very important part of my job and I like to arm myself with as much knowledge and experience as I can to try and help to make a difference for the people I work with.

Do you have to undergo any specific training to become a mental health first aider?

Yes, I completed a two-day training course with Health Matters in Belfast. It was a very interesting and worthwhile experience that gave me the basic tools for initial response and to help to identify any potential issues

How do you think the company and its staff have benefitted from having mental health first aiders on board?

I have been able to provide support and advice for some team members who I think took advantage of having someone in the building who was a familiar face and that they were comfortable to speak to. Being onsite full time also helps as I am always available if needed.

What do you do to look after your own mental health?

Apart from having time with my family, music is my big stress reliever. I play bass guitar in a band and it’s probably the one time that that I have where I can block everything else out. I think it’s important to have something positive outside of the normal daily stresses and strains of life.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who was struggling with their mental health right now?

If I had to narrow it down to one, I would simply say don’t bottle up your stresses and anxieties. It’s important to talk to someone and let them know if you feel that you’re struggling. Family members, Friends, Your GP or anyone that you feel you can be open with. That very action of talking about how you feel may be enough to help.

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