200 hours completed!

Around May 2019, I saw a news feature with Duke & Duchess of Cambridge launching the 24/7 UK crisis text line Give Us A Shout.

The idea seemed simple and brilliant. Mobile providers waived their fees for texts to this service. Anyone struggling with their emotions from feeling lonely to idealation to complete suicide, any age, could text the word SHOUT to 85258 and get help to take them from a hot moment to a cool calm.

As a completely text service 24/7, those struggling didn’t have to overcome fear or anxiety of speaking to someone via a telephone line. Nor did they have to take part in a video call.

Completely anonymous.

This idea peaked my interest. The new launch was to engage with volunteers to train to go on the platform and support. The training was long and intense.

A coach is assigned from joining Give Us A Shout until a volunteer decides to leave.

This wrap around support for texters and volunteers is unique so I applied and thankfully was accepted.

Starting off as a baby chick (new volunteer) I could only take one texter at a time. The commitment is to give 200 hours to the platform before deciding to leave.

That target seemed light years away and completely unattainable. However, I received the following email from my Coach – I didn’t even realise I passed the landmark!

Congratulations on having spent 200 hours on the Platform.

Thank you for giving so much of your time and empathy to our texters. We really appreciate every second you’ve spent with us on the Platform…….720,000 seconds to be exact!

I’m sure that when you made a commitment to do 200 hours of volunteering with Shout it seemed almost unattainable, and yet you have made that commitment a reality and for that we are all so grateful to you.

We look forward to you continuing to support texters and other Shout Volunteers with your invaluable experience for many more hours to come.

My plan is to continue volunteering as long as I can for this unique service. Feedback shows me, it really makes a difference to those struggling.

I always teach people I work with ‘Never look at big targets. They always feel unattainable. Instead, look at bite sized steps. You’ll soon achieve your end goal and learn so much along the way.’

I know I have.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, no matter the time of day or night or issue that’s on your mind, text the word SHOUT to 85258. Help is there. You don’t need to go on any struggle alone.

Qualified #MentalHealthFirstAiders!

As part of Growing Talent we deliver the global Mental Health First Aider qualification for every Growing Talent Associate on the programme and invite some of the employer managers as well.

 

This intense course makes up the first two days of the Holistic Week, which for Growing Talent 21 was 29 and 30 April 2019.

 

The course teaches confidence and awareness in recognising a change in someone, starting a conversation, signposting on to appropriate help and – vitally – self care.

 

The first day sets the solid foundation of the work of mental health covering legislation, the start of MHFA in Australia the spread throughout the globe, depression and suicide.  The five global steps of intervention are introduced and used throughout the day.  ALGEE is fundamental in remembering the process to support someone and ourselves.  Keen to ensure there is no communication misunderstanding, I introduce ‘reflect back’ from the start of the MHFA course.  After listening, it’s essential in my opinion to reflect back what we’ve heard to ensure we have the facts.  Especially crucial when raising suicidal thoughts.  Day two covers anxiety, personality and eating disorders as well as psychosis – focussing on BiPolar and Schizophrenia.

 

Shennell joined us for the week to support and encourage the guys.  She did Growing Talent some four years ago.  She took a photo of her original manual and the current one for comparison.

 

 

We all agreed the new manual is a big improvement and a gym workout as well!

 

So after two exhausting days, what did the Growing Talent Associates and employers think?

 

“Intense course but essential in today’s society”

“This course has exceeded by expectations.”

“I’ve learnt a deeper understanding of mental illness and methods to support”

“This course gave me a better understanding of mental ill health”

“I can now empathise what a person may go through”

“It has changed my approach to mental health.”

“My confidence has increased a lot.  I can now understand rather than judge people”

“I have learnt so much”

“A very insightful two days”

“I now have the knowledge  to support someone and keep myself safe”

“A brilliant course.  Please continue to teach it”

 

There was unanimous agreement on increased knowledge, tools learnt, fear factor greatly reduced and confidence to plan, start and signpost a conversation with someone struggling.

 

A great day at the office then!

 

All delegates were given the homework to spend one hour on themselves before returning on Wednesday for the continuance of the Holistic Week.

 

We should all take time to nurture ourselves.  Don’t you agree?

 

Suicide – how do you intervene?

Due to the work I’m honoured to work in on Growing Talent – mentoring unemployed people from all backgrounds into permanent jobs – and Mental Health & Well Being course design and delivery, it isn’t a rare thing to encounter people with suicidal thoughts.

 

There is a growing spotlight on suicide.  Network Rail and the Samaritans have started a joint campaign asking the public to start a conversation with anyone they see in distress at train stations.  An excellent campaign and I strongly believe you cannot make a situation worse by talking.  However, I do feel strongly that some training is needed not only to recognise turning points but also agreeing safe plans and self care.

 

Having been an MHFAEngland instructor for several years, I felt pretty confident in supporting people through their suicidal thoughts.  However, the suicide section on the MHFA format is one 1/2 day and coupled with depression.  Some good knowledge but not in-depth.

 

I’d heard about LivingWorks ASiST (www.livingworks.net) global programme – 2 full days dedicated to suicide intervention which was formed in Canada and is now being delivered globally.

 

Finding organisations that deliver this valuable workshop – and believe me, you do work on it – is not easy.  An internet search found @GrassrootsSP – an amazing organisation based in Brighton.

 

21 and 22 November were intense days in Brighton.  The learning was so much more than expected.  The networking with other delegates was invaluable – learning from each other.

 

I thoroughly recommend this priceless experience.  Which should be part of every school curriculum.  The sooner we start talking about suicide and mental health the easier it will be to save lives.

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