Meet your Mental Health First Aiders

Lauren Oldershaw has completed her training…

We all have mental health – and most of us will experience a period of time in our lives where this is compromised in some way.

Having someone to turn to when you need it most can, and does, make a huge difference and with mental health quite rightly taking a much-needed step into the spotlight in recent years it has never been more important to know where help might be.

And that is just as vital in the workplace where we continue to have to find ways of coping with extraordinary circumstances.

This is why there are now a team of fully trained Mental Health First Aiders – with more taking up opportunity to undertake the training.

Earlier this year Steff Monk, Sarah Gascoigne, Anita Root, Emma Harnett, Naomi Money and Jacquie Clements all became certified Mental Health First Aiders.

And Lauren Oldershaw has now joined them.

She was initially inspired by them to look into taking part in the training.

“Through my work within the Communications team I had the honour of speaking to all the newly trained Mental Health First Aiders when they completed their training this year.

“And along with being just so humbled by their stories and bravery in speaking about their own experiences, I realised how much having people like them might have helped me in previous jobs.”

Lauren, who lives in Maldon, explains having worked in a high pressure work arena, with never a mention of staff member’s mental health or the effect of this on employees, she realises there were many people who indeed needed support.

“The person I would have dismissed as being rude because they shouted at me when I asked them something innocent may have been suffering from burnout, or they may well have been depressed and not able to talk to anyone.

“No-one ever really asked each other if we were okay, if we were managing.

“But I have always loved talking to people, and listening to them, and so I really wanted to be able to do something which would hopefully make a difference,” says Lauren, who joined West Essex CCG as a Senior Communications Officer just over a year ago.

She says the training she received was hugely useful and eye-opening.

“I considered myself a good listener but the work we did with that really made me think about what I was, and wasn’t saying, to people a lot more.”

As the mum of a 15-year-old daughter, and seven-year-old son, Lauren says making sure everyone is mentally well – and can talk about it if they are not feeling well – is hugely important to her.

“The training will help me in all aspects of my life.

“I have a close family friend the same age as me who many years ago was diagnosed with schizophrenia and I didn’t really understand it at that point or even try to.

“And I feel really sad that when I saw him, after he had attempted to take his own life, I didn’t really ask him about it.

“I thought he wouldn’t want to be reminded of it and it seems so ridiculous I thought that now and I know I absolutely should have asked him.”

It is simple things like asking someone how they are, more than once, that can make such a difference.

Mental Health First Aiders are not there to diagnose or prescribe but listen and offer support and guidance to anyone who might be suffering with poor mental health.

You can get in touch with any of the Mental Health First Aiders, it doesn’t have to be someone in your department.

You can email Lauren, Steff, Sarah, Anita, Emma, Naomi and Jacquie directly.

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