The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day, on 10th October, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’.
I’m not sure whether you have heard me mention this before, but one of the privileges I have in my role is to be a part of the Mental Health Champion group. The group is made up of really hard-working staff that range from regional managers, support staff and staff in central functions. As individuals, we try to support our colleagues with their mental health by noticing when someone is struggling, by being there to listen to them and by supporting them to get the right kind of professional help and support when they need it. We also facilitate activities in our areas of work about mental health to raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health. Collectively we are all passionate about mental health.
With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to one of our Mental Health Champions, Mel Kelly. Mel has very kindly offered to write this month’s blog. Mel is one of our Home Managers and she works really hard promoting mental health within her home as well as doing the difficult job of managing a mental health service.
Come out of the Dark Ages
“It’s been nearly three years since I hit a low point in my life. I’m normally the type of person that would just dust myself down and move on. But this specific day was different, it affected me, and it brought everything to the forefront of my mind and on this occasion, it tipped me over the edge. I was working and had been left in charge. I was new in a new role and the Manager was off long-term sick, so I was feeling the pressure.
I remember vividly it was an early shift and I had walked into the room to help someone I supported to get out of bed, only to find them motionless and lifeless. (It was clear they had passed away). This was someone I had a great rapport with and had supported for a long time.
That day hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt the pressure to be strong and carry on for the sake of the others in the team, even though inside I was really struggling.
The policeman arrived and I had to answer a multitude of questions. He must have seen how difficult I was finding the situation and pointed to the Employee Assistance number on a poster on the wall and suggested that I give them a call and talk to someone.
At 4 am the following morning I was still awake. I was emotional and angry, and I felt that I didn’t have anyone to turn to and that no one would understand. I was having flashbacks of my mum’s death from the year before. This for me was another traumatic event I had faced, as I was in the situation when I had to carry out CPR, but I could tell at the time that I was losing her. I remember I felt really angry towards everyone involved afterwards. It was strange how this death had brought up emotions of my mother, when I thought I had dealt with this at the time.
I now realise that this was unresolved grief and trauma from losing my mum, resurfacing in the sad situation of losing someone I supported and was close to.
I reached out at 4.30 am and I finally called the number and chatted to a man who I believe must have thought I was some crazy lady crying down the phone. What they did for me in the middle of the night was nothing short of amazing. I chatted for ages about every emotion I felt, and they just listened, they didn’t interrupt they just listened. After I had finished talking, they gave me some advice, and they also told me they were there for me, whenever I wanted to chat. These people to me were my life savers and they put me on the right track, they told me to let others in and accept any help given.
I called them a further four times and we started to put things together, they even said I had a bit of PTSD going on, this was something even my doctor hadn’t noticed.
When the Mental Health Champions advert came up, I knew I had to do it. I wanted to help and be there for someone else and let them know ‘it’s ok not to be ok’. I want to be that person that someone can talk to when they hit rock bottom and they don’t know where to turn and I want to be there for someone to scream at if they need to let go.
We live in an age where mental health issues are increasing and we can all make that change by checking in and asking, “are you alright” and then repeat “No really are you alright”, especially if we have noticed they’re not their normal selves.
Communication is the key and if every colleague can check in with another once a day, things may change.
Remember it’s good to talk.”
Mental Health Champion
– Thank you so much Mel, it takes a lot of courage to share your story like this, you are a true champion!!
If like Mel you would like to share your experience of mental health or offer some more tips on how you coped, or if you would like to contribute to the blog I would love to hear from you and you can reply directly from the blog or the achieve together app or even e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I would also like to mention that we will be looking for new recruits soon to join our Mental Health Champion group. So, if your passionate about mental health and you would like to be
a Mental Health First Aider, please ask your manager to pass on your details to me. Or if you already have a Mental health First Aiders Certificate and you would like to join the champion group, let me know it would be great to have you on board.