On average 1 in 3 people will experience a mental health problem, and as this life becomes more stressful that figure is rising to 1 in 2. Any organisation, no matter the size, is likely to have some staff who will be effected by some form of mental health problem or stress related disorder.
We are here to provide ongoing therapeutic intervention and support when needed, but what about immediate support in the workplace?
We know from experience it is possible that two people can learn to support each other. Without taking days off, without massive cost. Anyone with a mental health problem or stress related disorder who wants to be supported can also benefit from supporting others. It might be that just 30 minutes of sitting having coffee together, going out for a walk or some other supportive activity, is all it takes to keep people in the workplace, and help them to be more productive through difficult times.
Routine is important to anyone with a mental health issue, so sending them home may not always be the best solution. Giving them another option, a simple safety net, might be all it takes to keep them working, improve self esteem and support them to a faster recovery. Being supported by another person who also has experienced a mental health problem may help them feel understood, or see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that they do not have to struggle alone.
We will give each budding Peer Mentor enough training and understanding of basic stress relief strategies, basic supportive measures and understanding of the mental health needs involved. We will offer ongoing supervision where suitable, and guide them in the process of signposting to other agencies where appropriate. Each candidate will be coached in contact awareness and mindfulness techniques, which will arm them to help themselves and others they support.
The training consists of 1-1 coaching sessions and group sessions. Learning is experiential and factual. We provide all materials required including required reading materials and extra support for those with dyslexia. Training time is dependent on individuals and how well the information is developed within the training group. Ongoing training is available as part of the supervision process which continues after the initial training comes to an end. Each year all peer mentors in our network will also be invited to an annual meeting in which they can meet with other peer mentors and hear a short presentation about ongoing mental heath support developments.
Part of being a peer mentor is also about educating others, promoting good mental health and where possible helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health problems by example and in some cases helping to challenge work place practices which undermine good mental health.