January 24, 2023

Mental Health First Aid

I am proud to announce that I have just become a Mental Health First Aider. You may ask why I have done this, given that I am already a counsellor.

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I am proud to announce that I have just become a Mental Health First Aider. You may ask why I have done this, given that I am already a counsellor. It is because I  believe that it is important to start a conversation with people about their mental health. To dispel the old beliefs that mental health should not be talked about. The old attitudes that if you are struggling with your mental health, you are somehow weak or inferior. To raise awareness of mental health issues. Why is it that if someone breaks their leg we do not tell them to pull themselves together, yet if someone gets anxious we do?

I am happy to admit that I struggle with my mental health at times. I am like a lot of counsellors, who want to help others because they have suffered mental health issues themselves. I have a tendency to become anxious and depressed.  I worked for almost 20 years in the high pressured legal world. As a family solicitor I dealt with very emotional clients and very bureaucratic courts, whilst having time and billing targets. These were two opposing forces, between which every family lawyer is torn. Inevitably this has a toll on your mental health. However, mental health support is very rare in the legal workplace. I want to change this.

This is why I have become a Mental Health First Aider. Simon Blake, the Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid England describes this as

“…becoming part of a community of almost half a million people in England … who are trained to recognise mental ill health and help people find the support they need. It is this community who will achieve our vision of a society where mental health is accepted as a normal part of life and everyone has the skills to look after their own and other people’s wellbeing.”

Not only does providing mental health support make happier staff members, who then enjoy their work, work harder, and are more loyal to their employer. Providing mental health support also makes economic sense, as there are less days lost to sickness and staff are more productive. We all know that prevention is far better than cure, so I want to help provide more mental health support in the workplace. Here are a few statistics:

  • One in four of us will experience a mental health issue in any given year.
  • Approximately one in four adults in England have been diagnosed with a mental illness (26%), while one in five report experiencing mental health issues without being diagnosed (18%).
  • The total cost of mental ill health in England for 2009/10 was £105.2 billion.
  • The cost of mental health issues to the UK economy (£105 billion) is similar to the entire budget of the NHS and the total effect of violence on the economy combined (£124 billion).
  • Mental illness is the largest single source of burden of disease in the UK. No other health condition matches mental illness in the combined extent of prevalence, persistence and breadth of impact.
  • The most common mental health issue reported in England is depression (19%), followed by panic attacks (19%) and generalised anxiety disorder (6%).
  • 43% of long term benefits paid in the UK due to health issues have a primary mental health issue as the cause.
  • 75% of people with a diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all.
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20 to 49.
  • Stress ranks fourth and mental ill health ranks sixth in the main causes of short term absence from work. When it comes to long term absence, stress is ranked second and mental ill health third.
  • Mental health issues are responsible for 91 million lost working days in the UK. This costs about £30 billion a year to the UK economy.
  • The cost of presenteeism (turning up for work when unwell) is around £15.1 billion a year to the UK economy.
  • In 2013, stress, anxiety and depression alone were responsible for 15 million working days lost.

If you would like to start a conversation about your mental health, or what can be done to support mental health in your organisation, please contact me nicole@greenoaktherapies.co.uk or 07742209312

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