The Mental Health Foundation is focussing on stress for 2018 and the impact of stress on Mental Health. Stress is the feeling of being under immense pressure and there are a number of different factors that can make a person stressed. Stress can present itself both physically and emotionally and affect different people in different ways.
According to MIND Blue Light 85% of fire and rescue personnel have experienced stress and poor mental health at work which is due to repeated exposure to traumatic events and high workload pressures. Often people don’t realise that some physical symptoms and behaviours are signs of stress. These could be things such as not being able to sleep, drinking too much and not having the enthusiasm to do things. Looking after physical health, having others listen to you, taking a break when you need it so as not to feel overwhelmed and recognising when you need support and help from an independent organisation will all be ways to positively change your mental health for the better.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service signed the Blue Light Time to Change pledge to show our commitment to challenging mental health stigma and promote positive wellbeing within the Service. LFRS pledged to help our staff keep well at and for work and know where to find support if they need it. There are numerous Blue Light champions throughout the organisation who display useful information about staff on company noticeboards and hold ‘Time to Talk Days,’ which complete with cake and a cuppa provide the perfect relaxed environment for staff to raise any concerns they might have.
The aim of the torch relay is to visit every Fire Station in Lancashire, spread positive messages about dealing with mental health and informing staff of where to find help and resources should they need a helping hand. The fact that so many staff actively got involved in the campaign and volunteered to cycle miles at a time is testament to their commitment to the cause. Cyclists rode together as a sign of being there to support colleagues and those that weren’t taking part in the cycling ensured that refreshments and a warm, supportive welcome was ready for them at each station they came to.
Today is also the day that we found out the #OurBlueLight campaign won the ‘Mental Health Champion’ NHS Heroes Award. FF Woodward from Preston Fire Station went along with Dan and Rich from NWAS to collect the award and we are looking forward to hearing all about it on a special programme with ITV on Monday 21 May at 20:30hrs.
Are there any mental health champions in your workplace? Are there posters or noticeboards displaying information about where to get help if you are struggling at work? The MIND website contains lots of information for both employees and employers to ensure there are resources and platforms in place.
MIND also offers some advice on taking care of yourself in the workplace:
- CONNECT by speaking with colleagues instead of sending emails, taking an interest into their day/weekend, spending your lunch break with a different department
- BE ACTIVE – walk to ask someone a question rather than phoning or emailing, get up to make brews, take a walk during your lunch break, organise a group activity after work
- TAKE NOTICE – clear the cupboard you always store junk in, add nice things to your workstation to boost your mood, take a different route into work, work from a different office or site
- LEARN – a new skill, undertake a training course, set up a club for colleagues at lunchtime
Remember ‘it’s okay to not be okay.’