Meet our Mental Health First Aiders

Nurse Anita Root talks about why she signed up…

With a far-reaching background in nursing, it is perhaps not surprising Anita was among the first to volunteer to be a Mental Health First Aider for the CCG.

The voluntary role is designed to help people know where to go and what to do should they be experiencing poor mental health at any time in the workplace.

This past year has been a particularly challenging one for most of us – and making sure everyone feels as positive and happy as possible when they are working has never been more important.

This is why knowing where to turn when things might get too much could be vital.

Having worked here at the CCG for the past four years Anita was among those advocating our commitment to Time to Change, a workplace pledge to bring the issue of mental ill health out into the open.

And she explains this meant deciding to be a Mental Health First aider was a natural next step for her.

“Being a nurse I think I already knew about a lot of the qualities that would be needed.

“About the importance of confidentiality and also the fact we would not be diagnosing at any point.

“I see the most important aspect of it as being able to listen and to signpost where people need to go,” says Anita, who lives in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

“Most importantly, it’s the offer of a friendly face during difficult times,” adds Anita.

Her role within the CCG is Designate Nurse Safeguarding Children and LAC, dealing with, training, supervision, working with partner agencies, ensuring safeguarding children and Looked After Children are advocated through all aspects of commissioned services.

She first got on board with the project when mental health champions were first introduced as part of the commitment to Time to Change.

This was made early last year and designed to shine a spotlight on the issue of mental health and offer support and guidance.

From her experiences as a nurse, Anita knew straight away it was something she wanted to be heavily involved in.

Mental health issues can affect anyone – one in four of us will experience a problem in any given year.

Time to Change invites everyone to be part of a movement which is changing the conversation around the subject – for the better.

This ensures nobody feels isolated or alone for having a mental health problem.

Anita says: “We need to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

“I do feel really strongly that physical and mental health should be seen as equal, that is why I got involved with Time to Change and why I feel having Mental Health First Aiders is so important.”

There are currently six Mental Health First Aiders across the CCG who all completed an intensive two-day training course.

Anita says she found the training very thorough.

“It went into a lot of detail, which was very useful.

“It was much more in-depth than I expected it to be but I think my nursing background helped with that.”

The course teaches in-depth skills, across all aspects of mental health, for providing first aid to people who may be experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.

Anita sees one of the most important aspects of the new role as being in a position to give someone time and offer a friendly face.

The first aiders, who like medical first aiders in the workplace will need to refresh their qualifications after a certain amount of time, are not restricted to the department they work in and can be approached by anyone at any time.

Anita says: “People will often disguise how they feel.

“They might seem the most together person but underneath they are struggling and just have no idea where to turn, so having someone who can signpost where that help is I think is a really wonderful idea.

“I think it is important to make sure everyone knows it is completely confidential.”

You can email Anita direct for support or any of the other Mental Health First Aiders; Emma Harnett, Jacqui Clements, Naomi Hunt, Sarah Gascoigne and Steff Monk.

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