Health and Wellbeing - Time to Change


Book now - Mental Health First Aid Training

By learning to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental ill health you will increase your confidence in feeling able to approach, reassure and support a person in distress and guide them to further support. Book on to this accredited course which aims to equip you with the skills and knowledge to support colleagues with any mental health related problems.

The training gives an in depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect well-being, and teaches practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues.

Upcoming dates:

  • 12 - 13 November, Craven House, Barrow
  • 15 - 16 November, The Oval Centre, Workington
  • 3 - 4 December, County Offices, Kendal

This is a 2 day course and attendance on both days is necessary to complete the training. All sessions run from 9am - 5pm.

Please book via the 'Career and Development' tab on MyHR (CCC staff only) or email Bev Graham (People Management) for more information.

Ask Twice

Sometimes we say we're fine when we're not, so if your friend, family member or colleague is acting differently, ask twice.

Stories from staff

Following the birth of my niece my sister became seriously ill due to prolonged and undiagnosed postnatal depression. She had hidden the symptoms of her illness from the family well, and we had no idea that she was suffering a breakdown and was actually at crisis point.

She was urgently assessed, started on medication and received urgent input from the Mental Health Team. Unfortunately, she continued to struggle and 7 days later she was admitted to hospital.  The stay in hospital and the rest gave her the time out she urgently needed and she was soon keen to be discharged and back with her family. 

Through continued support, treatment and counselling she was able to overcome the hurdle of returning to work. Luckily, she had a very understanding Manager who also had personal experience of a mental health issue within his own family and was extremely supportive. He also understood how important it was for her to get back to her routine. Going back to work was an enormous step for her, it was extremely daunting but she did it and we were all so proud of her. 

She continues to have the occasional "up's and down's" but has never slipped back into the crisis state she was in. If she feels things are slipping she knows who to turn to now.  She will say the reason she didn't confide in and turn to any of her family was because she felt that not coping as a new mum was her fault, and that admitting she couldn't cope was admitting she wasn't a good mum and in turn this led to feelings that she wasn't worthy and didn't deserve to be a mum at all - a spiral.

As a family, in hindsight, all the signs were there and we just didn't see it - because we weren't switched on to the fact that this was a mental illness. We all live with a the guilt that we didn't see the situation for what it really was, and that we weren't there for her when she needed us. If only we had been more aware of the signs! And talked.

The more open we are and the more we talk about it, we realise that so many families go through the experience of a family member going through an episode of mental illness. It has an effect on everyone, but the important thing to remember is to talk about it and not suffer in silence and also to remember that there is always support whether that be from within your family or outside.

A few years ago I struggled with my mental health. My initial reaction was to hide it from my colleagues. I felt isolated, ashamed, and weak. I didn't feel able to openly talk about my mental health with my manager for fear of the stigma and the worry that I wouldn't be able to do my job properly. It manifested itself as a physical illness and I was really struggling to come to work every day. 

After months of suffering in silence I was at the point of being unable to cope, one day I overheard a  colleague casually discussing mental health, it really surprised me how easily she could talk about it and how no one was shocked or surprised by the things she was saying. It made me think 'why can't I do that?'  I pulled my colleague to one side and told them how I was feeling; they were really supportive and encouraged me to make a GP appointment straight away. 

This was the first step in my road to recovery. Each time I spoke to someone it became easier and I felt less ashamed. I realised there is no stigma and there are lots of people out here who want to help. 

I opened up to my manager about how I was really feeling and agreed to be referred to occupational health. Within a few weeks I had an appointment with a Nurse for a consultation. The Nurse was so lovely and supportive. She explained everything to me and made me feel hopeful that I could get better.

I was referred to a counsellor for therapy. I was very nervous and slightly sceptical but I forced myself to go and it was the best decision I ever made. The first session completely changed the way I felt and after 4 sessions I felt like a different person. The counsellor empowered me to feel strong about having a mental illness instead of feeling weak. I cannot recommend it enough.  

The biggest thing I have learned is that everyone is in some way dealing with mental illness whether it is themselves or a friend or loved one. Yet so many people don't talk about it. 

The more we talk about it the easier it will be for someone in my position to speak up earlier and get the help they need before it becomes too difficult to cope with.

One of my team has suffered poor mental health for the last couple of years.

The issue first became apparent when she had long episodes of very low mood and high emotion. She was often very quiet in the office and a few times a week was found crying at her desk. Her poor mental health also impacted on the quality of her work, as she began to lack confidence and was making  mistakes.

Having been at the mercy of depression and anxiety some years ago, I recognised the symptoms quite quickly and knew I had to step in to help. I increased the frequency of her one to one sessions, but made them more informal, often taking her out of the workplace and having coffee somewhere where we could talk. 

In doing this she revealed that her issues were in her personal life. It helped tremendously if I opened up about my past experiences.  She was extremely surprised by my openness - lived experience is such a useful tool. She said it made her realise that having poor mental health wasn't something to be ashamed of and that it didn't make you a weak person. We talked about what I could do as a manager to support her and what she would find helpful. We also discussed what sort of coping strategies we could put in place to help her in the workplace.

We have continued to talk on a regular basis. Talking is good. It often brings perspective and objectivity. But compassion and empathy are key. 

Things are continuing to improve. She has sought help outside of the workplace through her GP and other appropriate agencies. She goes to classes at a local gym and has built a support network outside of work.

We are still on the journey, but I am confident that we are heading in the right direction.


More about asking twice

Want to step in to help a friend, family member or colleague? Find more information:


If you're passionate about mental health, you can support us by registering to be a Time to Change Champion

Register your interest using the form below or email Timetochange@cumbria.gov.uk.

Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem this year yet too many people feel ashamed or isolated which can be as bad as the mental health problem itself. That's what we are looking to change and why we would like Time to Change Champions in the workplace.

Time to Change Champions will play a key role in helping to make mental health a normal topic of conversation, dispelling myths and making it easier for people to seek support.

 

Become a Time to Change Champion

We are seeking passionate employees, with or without experience of mental health problems, who want to join our campaign; support our Employer Pledge and run events and activities in the workplace to break down stigma, bust myths and get us all talking about our own mental health.


 

What you could gain from being a Champion

  • The knowledge that you are part of a movement to create positive change.

  • Being part of a network of like-minded individuals where you can learn and share knowledge. 

  • Increasing your understanding around wellbeing and fighting mental health stigma in the workplace.

  • Developing skills outside of your role and learning from your peers.

  • Increased confidence in public speaking about issues you are passionate about.

  • Helping to end mental health stigma in your workplace.

 





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More Information

You can find out more about mental health, some of the myths and facts and take the mental health quiz at www.time-to-change.org.uk/about-mental-health.