From Monday 18th to Sunday 24th May it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will have special meaning for many who will be finding lockdown and the new ways we are living extremely challenging. Lincolnshire charity LIVES, who now provide their own Mental Health First Aid Course to businesses and individuals, want to help spread the word and reduce the stigma that still surrounds mental health.
LIVES has an army of volunteers across the county who give their time to attend 999 medical emergencies. Regardless of the medical emergency, the incidents and accidents that some of these Community First Responders can be called to can have a significant impact on their own wellbeing. During this year Mental Health Awareness Week, LIVES is reflecting on how they support their volunteers.
In 2018 just before Christmas, a LIVES Community First Responder was called to attend a 999 emergency which turned out to be a suicide attempt. When he arrived on scene, other emergency services were also in attendance and working with the patient and their family. The house was small and the room would only allow three people in at a time due to the size.
The responder recalled: “I had been to many other calls like this one and they had not affected me, but this really played on my mind. I couldn’t get into the patient and my role was ‘hands-off’ providing the necessary equipment to the doctors and paramedics on scene.
"I remember rushing back and forth up the stairs from the response vehicles and back to the patient, I found it hard not seeing how I had made a difference. After some time, the patient was taken to hospital and I continued to work on ensuring all equipment was taken from the house. As I was leaving a family member who was understandably upset met me on the drive. I found this incredibly hard to cope with.”
Many frontline workers will know when a call has impacted on a colleague and they will rally to help. The paramedic on scene, who also volunteers for LIVES, made sure the support network kicked in. Within the hour, the responders’ friend was at his house and a care call was made by Head of Operations at LIVES.
The responder added, “From a coffee with a friend to a discussion of the medical outcomes, I really felt supported. It was important to me to have a full network of people I could talk to and ask questions. I was overwhelmed by the kindness showed to me by my support network.”
LIVES ensured a structured follow up was made within a fortnight and that their Medical Director and the paramedic who was on scene talked through any issues and provided the signposts to ensure the responder could access further support and counselling.
“I learnt through talking to my support network that my role was just as important, the team who were ‘hands-on’ needed my knowledge and skills to get the right equipment when they needed it, and that role is vital. LIVES often say ‘it takes a team to save a life’ and I know this really is the case.”
LIVES needs to fundraise £1.4 million a year to train, equip and support their volunteers, who are currently attending calls like these, even during COVID-19. The charity, who turns 50 this year, continues to support its communities by responding to medical emergencies when a 999 call is made.
You can still support LIVES safely by making a donation through their website: www.LIVES.org.uk/donate
If you are interested in learning more about our Mental Health First Aid Course, please contact email@example.com