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Sarah is head of business support based at our Ashington office. She’s one our Mental Health first Aiders and is a huge advocate for mental wellbeing both in the workplace and in our home lives. Here she explains why it’s good to talk.
“Mental health is something that’s close to my heart, both through personal experience and family members. Being able to understand and help people, letting them know that they have someone to talk to is important to me and that’s what motivated me to become a Mental Health First Aider.
“I think there is still in many walks of life a stigma surrounding mental health and a reluctance to be open about our feelings when we’re struggling. This is particularly the case in the work environment where we’re worried it’ll be seen as a sign of weakness or perceived that it’s in some way normal to feel the pressures of workloads and we should just get on with things.
“My sister is a mental health nurse and I remember when she first set out on her career that my Dad was skeptical about it with a ‘load of old rubbish’ outlook on it. Fast forward a few years though and reflecting on how mental health problems have personally affected our family, he thinks very differently and realises that it’s just as important as our physical health.
“From my own personal experience of counselling and that of my family, I know that talking really does help. It doesn’t even have to be chapter and verse of what’s really going on, sometimes just sharing a joke or a bit of daft banter can have a positive effect and turn around someone’s day.
“I guess I’d just like people to know I’m there if they want to talk and they don’t have to formally approach me – the team of Mental Health First Aiders aren’t experts or counsellors, just as you would go and see a physical first aider, we’re here to be a first point of contact to help, be it just a chat or it could be signposting to other help and services.
“If anyone wants to talk about mental health but is struggling to start the conversation, I would say it’s hard, but do it, talk to someone you trust, let them know what you’re going through. Just make a start, it gets easier. And if you think someone’s struggling, ask them if they’re OK. Make them a cuppa and let them know you care and you want to help.”