Your Mental Health First Aiders

Jacquie Clements is drawing from her own experiences…

Being able to support colleagues in their hour of need is all the motivation executive assistant Jacquie needed.

As an existing member of the Staff Partnership Group, she was among those who stepped forward to train for the new role as Mental Health First Aider.

Jacquie, who has worked for the NHS for the past two decades, explains she had previously volunteered as a contact officer to help support colleagues.

She said: “It felt like a similar sort of role when it was first introduced.

“The contact officer was something that was brought in so that if anyone needed to talk about anything they could come to us.

“Sometimes it would just be a walk and a chat.

“I got a lot out of that, it was a good learning curve and didn’t seem so different from what was being asked to be a Mental Health First Aider.”

As a group, the six volunteers went on a two-day intensive training course in order to better understand what colleagues experiencing mental ill health may be going through and how to get them the help they might need.

Jacquie says her experience as a contact officer is very much combined with her own personal experience as a young woman.

And this became a deciding factor in offering to become a first aider.

“I suffered quite badly with anxiety and depression in my early twenties.

“I was not sure where to go to get support at that time.

“Having experience of being there, I really want to be able to help others who might be going through something like that,” said Jacquie.

Jacquie says at the time she was not confident enough to say anything or tell people about what she was feeling.

“Now we have moved on so much more as a society and realise it is not a weakness, it is something a lot of people go through.

“I know how frightening and isolating it can be, but through talking to family and friends I was signposted to the right services and got the help I needed.”

But she still remembers, 30 years later, how frightening it felt and how isolating it was.

Jacquie, 57, and fellow Mental Health First Aider Sarah Gascoigne job share the role of Executive Assistant to the Director of ICP Development and Transformation.

She lives in North Weald with her husband, between them they have four grown-up children.

Volunteering to help others at work is probably a natural step for Jacquie who is an active member of her community having done a lot of charity work, been a school governor, neighbourhood watch representative and served on her local village hall committee.

“I get so much out of volunteering and have always been drawn towards doing things like that.

“Working in a caring organisation, and being a caring person, it gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that I am helping someone else.”

The Mental Health First Aiders initiative is part of the Time to Change pledge the CCG made last year in a bid to tackle mental health issues.

You can email Jacquie or Emma Harnett, Naomi Hunt, Sarah Gascoigne, Anita Root and Steff Monk directly for a friendly, confidential, chat if you feel you need their support in any way.

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