World Mental Health Day 2019
“For most of my life I have had times of stress, lack of confidence, an inability to cope, fear - together with darker thoughts that I won’t put on paper even now. And who did I tell? No-one. “Just struggle on”, “Be a man”, “Pull myself together”, blah, blah, blah. There’s that little voice in my head beating myself up, time after time after time.
And then a few years back my life changed - someone showed me that these ‘bad’ feelings are the natural by-products of my thinking at the time. Happy thoughts = happy feelings, scary thoughts = scary feelings – that’s how we are designed to function. We can’t stop our thoughts arriving – we have no control over that – but we can choose how much attention we give to them. We don’t have to be scared or angry of our feelings.” – Lloyd, MBDA Employee and Mental Health & Wellbeing Ally
World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. With someone losing their life to suicide every 40 seconds in the world and suicide being the biggest killer of UK men under the age of 45, this year’s focus on suicide prevention aims to raise awareness and provide useful tools to help recognise those who may be struggling.
Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Allies as well as Mental Health First Aiders have been using their training to provide a listening ear, empathy, support and guidance to our people around the organisation.
“I am a mental health first aider and understand what a huge amount of strength it takes for anyone in crisis is to reach out for help. MBDA have an excellent mental health support network but reaching out can seem like a frightening thing. I have a close friend who describes depression as having a black dog on his shoulders.The weight can make him feel crushed at times and he has considered if it was all worth it but was brave enough to go to hospital when in his darkest place. He is having less black days now and has built an excellent support network so he is learning to keep the dog to heel!
It is totally normal to have days you are overwhelmed by everything that life throws at you. I find being able to step in and offer support hugely enriching and hope I can help others find their own way to overcome problems and find a way forward.” – Nicki, MBDA employee and Mental Health First Aider.
We have invested in providing this team with training which helps them to provide the support for people who may be suffering with their mental health. This initiative, as well as others we have put into place, are part of our efforts to reduce stigma associated with mental health and improve the wellbeing of our people, making sure they know that there is always someone there to listen.
“So, one of my friends was really struggling with his mental health a few years ago, & I found it really hard to know whether I was saying the right thing to them. They kept saying that just me being there & knowing I was there for them, thinking about them, was enough & I didn’t necessarily need to say anything. There were a couple of times they called me in crisis & I managed to calm them down enough to get them to call their crisis team member, but it was really scary. I was really interested in doing some training in this area because of these experiences with my friend, & so I did the Mental Health First Aider training earlier this year, which has really helped to give me more confidence, in knowing what are the right (& wrong) things to say to someone in crisis. The most important thing is to let the person talk if they want to, or just to sit with them, & listen to them without judging them. Knowing where to point them also helps!” – Lisa, MBDA employee and Mental Health First Aider
Those who have volunteered to be within the community have also found it beneficial to their own wellbeing.
“I had no idea when I signed up to be a MHA ally how I much I would benefit. My motivation was to help others and what I found is that through taking the time to listen properly and not walk by when the words “I’m fine” are said but don’t ring true, has made me realise how fortunate I am and how humble to realise what other people have to deal with in their lives. We are all vulnerable to mental illness, often all that’s needed is for someone to listen to notice or to acknowledge. Each of us can make a huge difference to those around us, you don’t need to be trained to be able to listen and to genuinely show someone that you care.” – Paula, MBDA employee and Mental Health & Wellbeing Ally
If you’d like to find out more about World Mental Health Day, you can visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day