South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) attends thousands of incidents each year involving people with mental health issues, including those who sadly try to take their own lives. By being aware of their issues and problems and knowing how to deal with them can make a real difference.
Sarah Thompson is the Trust’s Safeguarding lead and commented: “Talking about mental health issues can help to end discrimination and the Trust is pleased to support this national event. Owing to the often distressing nature of our front line work, we have supportive measures in place for our staff including access to counselling as well as providing debriefs for more traumatic incidents.
“There is also a well-established referrals system in place to safeguard patients, which we encourage our personnel to use when they visit a patient and are concerned for their safety.
“We really care about the welfare of our staff and are currently exploring new ways of supporting them in conjunction with partner agencies and third sector organisations in addition to what we already provide.
“As a society we need to be more aware of how wide-reaching mental health problems are. One in four of us will experience some sort of mental health problem during any given year and it is important to be able to recognise the signs that someone may need help.”
Dave Partlow is SWASFT’s lead for mental health and said: “The Trust is committed to working with partner organisations to support the development of mental health services and meeting the needs of those in crisis. The Time to Talk initiative is an opportunity to raise the profile of mental health, improve the experience of our patients and meet the requirements of the Crisis Care Concordat.”
Dave has been an integral part of the Trust’s involvement in the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, which is a national agreement between services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together to make sure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis. It has been signed by a number of agencies including the Association of Ambulance Service Chief Executives.
It is reported that nine out of ten people with a mental health problem face stigma and discrimination and SWASFT is pleased to provide any support it can, to staff and patients alike, by actively encouraging its workforce to ‘take 5’ on the 5th February to discuss this important topic.