Supporting our colleagues - 16 staff receive additional training about mental health
Several EMAS staff who provide emotional support to their colleagues have received additional training this week to help them understand mental health issues and tackle stigma surrounding them.
Last week, 15 Peer to Peer volunteers attended the mental health training where they received additional information about how to provide a listening ear to a colleague in need.
EMAS’ Peer to Peer network includes more than 200 volunteers who are available for colleagues to speak to when they are in need of emotional support.
The training was delivered by Terry Simpson, Head of Mental Health Services at EMAS, and included how to spot signs and symptoms of someone who is experiencing anxiety, stress or depression, and how to support them and signpost them to help.
Mr Simpson said: “There is no denying the role our colleagues do on a daily basis can be stressful, demands are growing and pressures are increasing which is why it is so important that we have the channels in place for staff to receive support.
“Mental health is often seen as an invisible illness that carries a stigma, we are breaking that stigma and encouraging our colleagues to talk. It is ok to feel that you are struggling either at work or home and we want our colleagues to have a safe environment where we can talk about that.”
Volunteers who have signed up for Peer to Peer include both frontline staff and those in supporting roles.
EMAS was also the first ambulance trust to sign the Blue Light Pledge – created by mental health charity MIND - to help remove the stigma of mental health in the work place.
Reverend Kevin Charles, Chaplain and Staff Support Lead at EMAS and lead for the Peer to Peer network, said: “Staff need support because of the pace of the job and the pace of life in general, and staff are sometimes more comfortable talking amongst peers.
“We give staff the opportunity to offload in a safe environment, and a lot of staff have benefitted from Peer to Peer support since the network launched in May 2015. With over 200 volunteers, there is always someone about to talk to.
“This additional mental health training last week aims to make people more aware of mental health issues and to understand that there is no shame in discussing these problems. We want to help remove the stigma around mental health. “
EMAS’ Peer to Peer network has been recognised nationally as ‘leading the way’ in supporting staff mental wellbeing. Other trusts are in the process of developing their own schemes, with many of them using the Peer to Peer network model; Milton Keynes Hospital’s scheme went live this week.
Staff support schemes are founded upon the principle that colleagues are best placed to provide support to each other through having a shared experience of the job.