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Protect team members attend Mental Health First Aid training

Protect knows better than most whistleblowing is not an easy thing to do. In our almost 30 year history, we have supported more than 45,000 whistleblowers. Many of the whistleblowers we support call us back more than once. Some cases go on for many years and are extremely traumatic. The impact on the whistleblower and family and friends cannot be underestimated. Our Advisers are trained to be good listeners, understanding and empathetic. But to give the Protect team a better understanding of best practice mental health first aid – and to equip our Advisors with coping strategies for themselves – we underwent an awareness training session facilitated by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England Instructor Kelly Lincoln.

MHFA training was first introduced to England in 2007 through the Department of Health and uses evidence based training to increase mental health skills and awareness in the workplace. The business cost of mental ill health in 2016/17 come to £34.9 billion with the Health and Safety Executive reporting in 2019/2020  38.8 million lost working days due to ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in Great Britain.  It would be interesting to know from this statistic, how many lost ill health days were linked to whistleblowing.

The session began with Kelly exploring with the Protect team our current awareness and knowledge of mental health, and what influences a person’s – and our own – mental health. Kelly ran through common thinking distortions, also known as ‘cognitive distortions or negative automatic thoughts, and challenged us to recognise some of these within ourselves. We discussed ways to identify and help a colleague who may be suffering with poor mental health.

We looked at mental health conditions and treatments, recovery, and stigma and discrimination and coping strategies as well as what employer can do to help combat stigma, by running mental health awareness campaigns, and considering mental health in policies and procedures and access to mental health services through health insurance benefits.

Protect is currently working with some of our employer members to develop an anti-victimisation guide for whistleblowers, and the awareness session with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England was really useful in helping us with some of the issues around victimisation.

Protect team feedback:

“A huge thank you to Kelly for leading us through an informative, thought provoking and really valuable session and lesson in mental health first aid. I know Protect’s Advisors are already fantastic listeners – but for me, working in Comms, I really saw the value in listening, validating, and not trying to fix people’s problems. The session will stay with me – thank you Kelly!” Lou

“The session was very informative without being too heavy or overloading. We learnt about the practical side of recognising signs of ill-health in ourselves and amongst colleagues, and how we can make steps to combat this in a work setting.” Grace

“Many of the clients we speak to are experiencing some degree of emotional distress, not only is this do we have concern for our clients, but this can also have an impact on Advisers mental health. It’s important to take time to think about mental health and how we can open up conversations both with our clients and our colleagues, this was useful session to do just this!” Caitlin

“Really informative session providing valuable insight on the importance of mental wellbeing inside and outside of the workplace, whilst making me appreciate how such complex issues can actually be mitigated by somewhat simple actions” Alex

For more information on MHFA England visit www.mhfaengland.org

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