A problem shared is a problem halved

Person sitting at window bay looking out, with plants surrounding

Stress, the final frontier. We are all facing pressure from seemingly every angle right now, on the back of a persistent fatigue plaguing many since emerging slowly from the pandemic.

The aftershocks of such an unprecedented event still reverberate within us, and learning to rebalance our routines, while a delight for some, can prove tricky for others. If the difficulty hits you mentally it can feel very isolating, that terrible sense of being alone in a crowded room.

After our prolonged period of separation, I think many of us really appreciate the support that coming to work and being around friendly colleagues can bring; but what if your struggles prove to be a bit tougher to surmount? Stress and other mental health problems are not uncommon – one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, and nearly half (43.4%) of people think that they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life. But what if you feel awkward admitting that you’re having difficulty keeping up or that you feel overwhelmed?

At Max Fordham we have a friendly team of Mental Health First Aiders who are fully trained and ready to support colleagues who may be having a tough time. A discreet chat in a quiet corner, a walk around the block or over a cup of tea can do wonders to alleviate the pressure one might be experiencing. I recently became a Mental Health First Aider, and in our training we would workshop various scenarios and learn about the wide variety of factors that can influence a person’s mental wellbeing negatively, and how to be sensitive to the unique circumstances in each of our lives. Since the struggle is internal, signs of stress and anxiety can easily be masked and missed and therefore left untreated, and in most cases, to worsen.

While the Mental Health First Aiders are trained in spotting signs that someone may be struggling and can offer acute assistance in the moment, as one would with other first aid, we can also signpost to free professional support services available through the practice.

I personally was very enthusiastic to take this opportunity as someone who has had some previous therapeutic training as well as seeking it out myself. I had been quite disappointed with service I had received privately and wanted to make sure that my colleagues never felt left behind. I wanted to be able to put my previously gained skills and experience to good use in my immediate environment and take the opportunity to let anyone know that they were important, and their feelings were valid.

Taking charge of one’s own journey is an empowering step in recovering from any episode of mental ill-health. This can all start with a friendly and confidential chat with a trained colleague who cares, because a problem shared is a problem halved.

If you are struggling, or know someone who is, you can find information and resources at www.mind.org.uk and www.mentalhealth-uk.org.