I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – Hampshire Firefighters

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On World Mental Health Day 2019, our minds turn to the toll many people’s work has on their mental health. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our employers, our workplaces can often be toxic for us.

If I were to ask you to name the things that are most important to your business, you would likely have ‘people’ right up there near the top. After all, you’ve probably invested heavily in acquiring and nurturing the right talent.

You’ll no doubt agree with me that happy teams full of staff that enjoy coming to work do better and contribute to the company thriving. But the reality is that the workplace can be taking a severe toll on employees. Despite appearances, many are finding it harder to come into work than they should.

You are doing well but are always looking for that bit extra to drive competitive advantage and profitability. But what else could you do?

Well, the answer isn’t so far away from where you’ve already been investing your time and money. It’s all about your employee’s mental health. That’s the key. It makes sense for your business, and it makes sense for your people.

Research has shown that UK businesses lose between £33 Billion and £42 Billion per annum due to poor mental health.

One of the biggest causes of sick leave is mental health. Although its probably recorded in a self-certification as a cold, flu or the dreaded diarrhoea due to the stigma attached to admitting something like anxiety or depression. A report by ACAS estimated that mental ill-health, including stress, depression and anxiety contributed in the UK to 91 million lost working days each year, more than for any other illness. No wonder so many colleagues complain that there are not enough staff to do the job. Quite a few of them are missing.

Those were the days lost that were identifiable because you could tell that employees were off sick. Worse still will be the impact of the employees that are affected by mental ill-health and are actually at work. You won’t be able to count those so quickly because the employees turned up, but they are likely severely underperforming.

Presenteeism is what happens when poor mental health distracts your staff. Some are recognisable because it is clear that your employees left their minds and enthusiasm at home. For others, the reduction in performance, the error rate or levels of risk taken are likely increasing, but its harder to spot or quantify.

Employees that are affected by depression and anxiety will often perform as well as anyone else. Many will be highly functioning. It’s not as simple as testing everyone and moving those that test positive to one side, focusing only on the so-called ‘healthy employees’. Nor is it simply a case of providing education, support lines for after it goes wrong, or training every other employee to be a mental health first aider, although they have their role.

In order for an organisation to be at it’s very best, it needs to value its employees and nurture their mental health.

Organisations benefit when they understand that employees are human, with moods and feelings that go up and down. A successful organisation will know words such as empathy and compassion and won’t need to sacrifice productivity or be “softer” to achieve results.

Successful organisations can achieve levels of collaboration and resilience that can not only boost the bottom line, but also give its staff, their families and friends a much needed boost too. Those are organisations where staff want to go to work and where they can focus on what’s in front of them from day to day. Most of all, they’ll know that if something happens in their lives, they’ll be able to talk to their peers and managers and receive the support they need.

Get in touch with Flexmind today and find out from our business and mental health experts how you can transform your organisation to one with motivated, productive staff generating increased revenue and reduced operating cost.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – Hampshire Firefighters

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As we publish this post on World Suicide Prevention Day we are reminded of the prevalence of suicide and the stigma it continues to hold in society. Despite progress being made in terms of talking about mental health in general, there has been little movement when it comes to suicide.  As a result, too many people continue to face crisis alone

The number of deaths due to suicide is increasing again. Some of the increase might be down to an adjustment to the threshold for inclusion in the statistics, however, the increase remains a concern.

Changing our attitudes to suicide and being more open to discussing it will save lives. We need to start talking about suicide.  We need to start asking people if they are considering ending their lives.

Already today at just after 5 am this morning Brian Tancock, our Founder and Director asked someone in crisis if they were thinking of suicide.

As part of Brian’s Crisis Volunteer work with Shout, this is a question he and his colleagues are asking multiple times each day. In many cases the answer is no, but in quite a number of cases is yes and after asking about planning, means and timing they help people work on positive actions that they can take to keep themselves safe and seek further help. Sometimes they also have to seek help from the emergency services specially where there is an imminent risk and progress cant be made through talking alone.

Our message on suicide is simple:

If you are in crisis, please talk to someone. Talk to a friend, relative, colleague, employer, a Doctor or one of the many helplines. In fact, anyone. You can also contact mental health professionals, and if you are in immediate risk of harm contact your local emergency services. There is always someone who wants to listen, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

If you are worried about someone in crisis, talk to them. Ask them how they are feeling and importantly ask them if they are thinking about suicide.  Be direct. Statistics show that asking someone directly about their suicidal thoughts will not increase the risk of them ending their own life. If people start using phrases such as: I don’t want to be here; I want to end it all; I’m nothing, No one will miss me, I’ve had enough of it all or similar ask them about how they are feeling and bring suicide directly into the discussion.

There are a thousand ways to start a conversation about your crisis, and if you are in the UK Shout is here for all of them.
Text Shout to 85258 for 24/7 support.  You can visit https://giveusashout.org for more information.

You can also contact The Samaritans.

In the US you can text HOME to 741741 or in Canada text to 686868 – these support lines are provided by Crisis Text Line.

#WSPD #WSPD2019 #Shout85258 #giveusashout @giveusashout

Please note that Flexmind does not provide one to one counselling services directly to the public. If you need help, please contact one of the options listed above, contact your local emergency services or The Samaritans.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – Hampshire Firefighters

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In a recent report on ITV News journalist, Mary Stanley highlighted firefighters Stu Vince & Adam Bundle of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service and their mission to get people talking about how they feel.

We frequently hear about the increased risks that men face of suicide and unaddressed poor mental health. Because of the conditioning that men have generally had growing up they often struggle to share their feelings. For those working in emergency services, it can be tough given what they experience each day. Both male and female officers and firefighters can find that tradition & culture suggests they “man-up’ or use laughter and black-humour to get them through whatever they encounter in their work. Thankfully this is starting to change, but the pace of change is far too slow for the current generation of officers.

Stu was diagnosed with severe anxiety, depression and PTSD after surgery and both had been impacted by the pressures and strains of working on the front line of the emergency services where trauma is every present.

‘we have both had to overcome some form of mental health problem during their working life. Coping with the loss of colleagues at work, the regular pressures of making life and death decisions whilst attending a wide variety of life-threatening incidents, or daily pressures such as keeping a roof over their families head. It’s of no surprise then that over the last few years we all have witnessed a dramatic increase in mental health issues in the workplace and we are determined to do something about it, for everyone.’

Stu and Vince are now making a real difference by talking openly and publically. Both having trained as Mental Health First Aiders and are showing their colleagues and others that it is ok to open up about your mental health to someone trusted or mental health professional. They are now preparing to go into other workplaces to share their experiences and to show those they meet that it is ok to talk.

The impact advocates and educators like these have goes far beyond those they are working directly with. It is not uncommon for mental health issues to extend beyond the primary person – in this case, the firefighter – and cross over to having a significant impact on their loved ones and friends. Work such as that done by Stu and Vince and the awareness that they are raising can have far-reaching benefits.

As Stu and Vince are coming into the next phase of their work supporting those impacted by poor mental health. To raise awareness they will be rowing across the Atlantic in 2020, they are also looking to support Mind Solent through their work. You can find out more about their mission and contribute at their JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/atlanticrowingchallenge2020

The Flexmind team recognise the individual courage of Stu and Vince, not least of all for the work they do in their day to day jobs, but also for the bravery they have shown sharing how they feel and talking about what they have gone through. We know the huge effort it has taken on their part to do all of this.

Flexmind’s founder Brian Tancock was well aware of the trauma that his late father experienced in his role as a police officer with the Metropolitan Polic. Through working with a client who is an ex-firefighter, turned Doctor & Clinical Psychologist with a particular focus on PTSD and Trauma and other trauma specialists we have developed a deep passion for supporting those affected by poor mental health as a result of what they have experienced in their work lives. A number of our team members have also experienced first hand how even those in so-called ‘normal’ low-risk office jobs are frequently impacted by their experiences at work.

You can see the full report by Mary Stanley for ITV News and watch the video at: https://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2019-08-15/i-wouldn-t-wish-it-on-anyone-hampshire-firefighters-open-up-about-their-mental-health/

Flexmind  have a deep understanding of mental health, risk, regulation and business processes provide the consultancy, advisory, educational and support services, including psychologists and trauma specialists to help the emergency services and any type of organisation work towards doing better for their people and better managing the risk to the organisation. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you setup up the right framework and start tackling workplace-related mental health issues head-on.

Brian Tancock
Director & Founder

Flexmind Ltd
http://flex-mind.com 
email: brian.tancock@flex-mind.com