It’s our Mental Health – how are we all living with it?

First Published: 08/03/2023

Kathryn Fox-Rogers
Chief Operating Officer, Johnnie Johnson Housing

It’s our Mental Health – how are we all living with it?

Earlier this week I spent two full days training to be a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA), with a cohort of colleagues from all different job roles in our wonderful organisation, Johnnie Johnson Housing.

We’ve discussed and studied a range of topics which mental health first aiders need to consider:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety/Stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harming
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality Disorders
  • Suicide

As part of the training we were all given a great reference book with 4-5 pages covering each topic, giving you the ‘insight’ into each area.

During the sessions we were taught how to be the person who can have those initial and ongoing welfare conversations with colleagues in the workplace. Creating opportunities to have those conversations and be able to signpost effectively and embed a culture of talking and sharing.

The power of sharing personal stories

Between the ten new Mental Health First Aider recruits, we didn’t need to use the book. Every single one of us had countless examples of personal experiences of dealing with each area, either first hand or due to family or friends in our lives. The open culture that was in the room gave everyone the opportunity to share those examples, some really personal stories about suicide, PTSD, self-harm, grief, dealing with psychosis and the effects on mental health of the menopause. In addition, we all recognised stigma for men and especially those men in the seldom heard communities.

Recognise this. People are walking around in your organisation with daily struggles, and their experiences provide an opportunity to support somebody else and highlight that they are not alone.

Protect your ‘pan’

Think of your mental health like a pan of water that you are boiling on the cooker, think of additional water as adding issues. If you keep adding the water and don’t do anything to relieve that stress, the lid will blow off. Make sure you look after yourself and drain your water! How you ask? The little things will help keep you balanced. A good amount of sleep, exercise when you can, even a short a walk is a form of exercise. You can also add to your pan things you like, whether that is watching Netflix, spend time with people you love – these little things will boost your mood and help you to manage your own mental health.

Don’t forget it’s okay for your pan lid to come off, talk to someone, get that support and guidance, we are all managing our pans!

Encouraging colleagues to speak up

Here at JJH we will continue our huge desire to keep improving our culture so that everyone knows we can help, support and guide people to be supported in work as we balance busy lives, children, caring for family and pets.  What is important to you, is likely to be very similar to your colleague just three desks down – or even three squares across on your Teams call!

Dealing with your own mental health and keeping that at a level that is manageable as we all navigate our lives is so refreshing to hear from my colleagues, I felt humbled to be part of these two days and being in a safe space to share my own stories and hear those of others.

If you are looking for a trainer we would highly recommend MI Training, refreshingly authentic.

So, look after yourself and remember it’s okay to not be okay ????

Useful links

Contact Us | Samaritans 
In the workplace | Samaritans
Samaritans Training and Engagement Programmes for Workplaces | Samaritans
First Aid Training | MI Team Training | England
Mental Health Foundation | Good mental health for all
Home – Mind
Papyrus UK Suicide Prevention | Prevention of Young Suicide (