Making a difference: Our Mental health First Aiders…
May is officially Mental Health Awareness Month, an international initiative aimed at recognising and educating us around mental illness and supporting those with various related conditions.
Each year the campaign runs with a theme, with the latest instalment centred around Tools 2 Thrive, focusing on helping people find healthy ways to cope with stress.
Over the past year at Saints, we have been developing our support network for our staff, ensuring they have everything they need to stay fit and healthy both in body and mind, especially during an extremely challenging year.
We have introduced various initiatives and networks as part of our Health in Mind staff programme, including forming a partnership with Employee Assistance Programme, Health Assured, who not only provide help and advice, but can signpost colleagues to other services if required.
However, it’s our dedicated team of Mental Health First Aiders that we are most proud of.
We currently have 19 across both our Stadium and Staplewood sites, all of which are staff members trained to talk, listen and support individuals who may be struggling.
We want our workforce to know we have a team of trained colleagues across all areas of the football club that they can approach in confidence, both during and after working hours, so nobody feels alone.
Each First Aider has their own profile on our intranet page, providing staff with an overview of why they took on the role and their personal qualities. We also make sure we regularly promote their services, so everyone knows they are here.
We caught up with a few of our Mental Health First Aiders to find out why they decided to become one along with their experiences during the COVID pandemic.
Amy Hill, HR Advisor
“I’ve always had a passion for helping and supporting people. Becoming a Mental Health First Aider sits well within my role of HR Advisor, as I am constantly speaking with a wide range of people, so it means I am prepared and ready to help if someone is struggling.
“I believe reaching out and identifying there is something not quite right is the sign of an incredibly strong person and a sign of courage and hope. If I can make a difference in someone’s life or just be there for them to talk to during an uncertain time, then I will have achieved what I set out to do.
“Over the course of the pandemic, I have been amazed at how adaptable and resilient people have been. By just asking how they are and how they are coping with the various lockdowns has been a good way of encouraging them to open up about how they are feeling and made people realise they are not alone."
Saints Foundation: Jamie Skinner, Project Operations Manager
“Across Saints Foundation, our staff engage with a number of young people and vulnerable older adults, and are faced with daily challenges. Therefore, our Senior Management Team has a duty of care to support our workforce from a health and wellbeing perspective so they feel supported in the community and feel they have someone they can talk to when faced with challenging circumstances related to their professional and personal lives.
“Essentially, I feel I have been able to apply the principles of MHFA to support our team with low level wellbeing concerns and issues, creating a safe environment where staff feel they can reflect and be listened to.”
Football: Emma Walker, Player Care Manager
“Knowing I could be trained to have an important and impactful conversation with anyone facing a tough time felt like a natural addition to my skillset. I work every day to support players to ensure they can perform best they can, and it is just as important to ensure the same support is in place for staff.
“During the pandemic I have been mindful of the lack of face to face contact with people which may mean fewer reach out. We have all found this time challenging so I have continued to try and check in with as many people as I can informally.
“Despite managing during lockdown, I have been grateful for people reaching out here and there so I hope that has made the difference with others too. It’s very easy to slip into the habit while working from home to only speak to those you are in regular direct contact with – but continuing to be an independent ear during a tough time is still so important”.
#We March On