Meet your Mental Health First Aiders

This week we chat to Naomi Money…

Would you know the signs of burnout if you were beginning to experience them?

Many of us wouldn’t and Naomi, who supports the Medicines Optimisation team within the CCG, certainly didn’t spot them when she developed them in a previous job.

Now her own personal experience has led to her signing up as a Mental Health First Aider in the hope of helping others finding themselves in a similar situation.

It took a concerned colleague openly asking Naomi one day if she was okay for her to realise she needed some help herself.

And, crucially, the workmate made sure she asked the question twice, explains Naomi, who lives with her husband in Bishop’s Stortford.

“Most people will automatically say ‘yes, I’m fine’ if someone asks if they are alright.

“So asking that question a second time can be really important and it certainly was for me.” says Naomi.

Naomi says she had been growing more and more anxious about her work, putting in longer hours but not feeling she was achieving any more.

“Then one day a colleague did ask me if I was okay, and when I said ‘yes’ she asked it again – and I broke down in tears because I realised I wasn’t.”

Naomi had not considered she was perhaps burnt-out until that point but took some time out to re-evaluate and recover and head in a new direction.

Soon after joining the CCG, she became involved in the Staff Partnership Group and, subsequently, its work with the Time to Change pledge.

Appointing a team of Mental Health First Aiders forms part of that pledge, an agreement to address mental health issues and help those struggling as a result.

“Having suffered from anxiety and burnout myself, looking after my mental health became even more important to me after that.

“It is something I work on on a daily basis,” she says.

A walk before work, or at lunchtime, and daily meditation sessions are among the techniques Naomi uses.

She says: “I think there are very few people who haven’t gone through some sort of mental health issue.

“We all have mental health, and it is about understanding yourself and knowing where you can turn for help.

“Having been through something like I did, I think being in a position to be able to help someone else in the way my colleague helped me would make me very happy.

“It is why I signed up to be a mental health first aider.”

As one of six trained first aiders across the CCG, Naomi is on hand to offer support and guidance to anyone who may be struggling with poor mental health.

Alongside Anita Root, Jacquie Clements, Emma Harnett, Jacquie Clements, Sarah Gascoigne and Steff Monk, Naomi is able to signpost to services and offer guidance as part of that role.

“I think we can all ask the question, look out for colleagues who might not realise they are struggling until someone actually asks them,” says Naomi.

She says it is important to remember there are always “peaks and troughs” but also to know what the signals are – and listening to them.

As well as mindfulness and getting out into the fresh air as much as possible, eating well and having a good routine are approaches which have worked well for her, adds Naomi.

You can email Naomi, Jacquie, Emma, Steff, Anita or Sarah for support – you do not have to be working in the same department.

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