7.25pm the evening of World Mental Health Day. I recently wrote an article on R U OK? Day addressing my relationship with mental health, from which I received an overwhelming response from people around the industry and around the world. My LinkedIn inbox has never been so full. Everyone who reached out commented on my courage in sharing my personal story within the industry I work in. This response demonstrated to me the amount of people who are affected by mental health and also the lack of people who open up about it. It is for this reason that I have decided to share more.
At 27 years old, I recently ended up in hospital after experiencing a heart attack. In a country 24 hours away from home, this was an extremely scary experience. Despite work ‘banning’ me from returning so that I could rest, I decided to return relatively early. Being a Brit abroad, my office made me feel somewhat at home.
When you experience something like this, you have a lot of people offer you advice. Your colleagues and friends, although well-meaning, don’t always feel confident in how to respond.
At PHD, we are lucky to have a senior member of staff who is inspirational in his advocacy of mental health. He recently gave a ‘this is my life’ career journey speech. He talked about a stroke which he had when he was very young and the profound psychological impact which followed.
With this in mind, I decided to take the advice of everyone around me and I agreed to see a PHD-arranged counsellor. It seemed important to be certain that the trauma I had suffered wasn’t impacting me more significantly than I had initially thought.
So ironically, on the morning of World Mental Health Day, I had my first counselling session. The lady I met with was incredible, very compassionate and understanding. After a long chat, she closed the session by asking me why I had come to see her. After deliberation, I said to her, “Because everyone kept telling me I should go and talk to someone.” I then followed with, “I don’t think people know what to say and seeing someone else seems to be a helpful solution.”
With this insight, I commenced researching the tools and techniques which are available to help people and companies equip themselves to provide supportive environments. I discovered Mental Health First Aid Training, which teaches people how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
Seeing the great services which this not-for-profit organisation offers, I would encourage every company to train people on this vital skill, just as we do with basic first aid. My colleagues in London have recently completed the training and described it as a crucial skill that has armed them with confidence.
My counsellor summarised by saying something that I really needed to hear – it’s okay to deal with things in your own way. There is no right or wrong. She made me feel okay with my current emotional processing and my desire to continue as normal. After receiving overwhelming amounts of conflicting advice over the last six months, this is exactly what I needed to hear.
This process has taught me that everyone has different ways of coping with life’s adversities. We all take a different path to find peace of mind and body. It’s important to have supportive colleagues and friends and I am forever grateful for the amazing support network that I have had around me, but it may be equally as important to have trained staff within your network who can provide you with the one bit of advice which you need to hear, just a the right time.
Read the original article here.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a global community which has grown to over 2.6 million MHFA-trained people in 25 countries around the world. Find out how you can get involved at mhfainternational.org.