Matthew Holman, Mental Health First Aid instructor and Samaritan shares his mental health journey, why he became a Samaritan, and how we can help save lives by raising money and making time to talk this Brew Monday.

For almost 20 years I traveled overseas for business, met many amazing people, and experienced the wonders of different cultures. But then everything in my world changed. In early 2015 I turned 40, and decided to take a redundancy and look at what I wanted to do next in my life. It was at this point I took the route to find out more about, and ultimately decided to become a Samaritan. 

At the same time, I took on a new job that involved travelling again. In January of 2016, whilst in America, I lost that job without any prior warning and my whole world imploded. I went on to personally struggle with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and found coming to terms with the trauma of the whole event very challenging. I was lucky, I had close family, friends and my amazing Samaritans family that helped me through my struggles in addition to my challenges. I also have close family members who have experienced mental illness. 

Following my recovery, I made a conscious decision at this point to create my own company Simpila Healthy Solutions, to focus on helping raise awareness and support for those who need additional help in the workplace. In early 2018 I became a MHFA England instructor and added Mental Health First Aid training to my company offering to clients. 

My work with Samaritans really does make a difference to my training deliveries. As I share some of my experiences and challenges I can bring to life how many people struggle to cope with the ever-increasing demands of the world. I feel priveleged to be able to sit with people in their time of crisis and just provide them with a safe space to talk whilst I listen. 

At Samaritans, our phones are always busy, and we do the best that we can as volunteers to support as many people as possible. Christmas and the New Year winter months seem to be harder for people to cope.

On Monday 21st January ('Blue Monday', which has become known as the 'saddest day of the year') Samaritans invite everyone to participate in ‘Brew Monday’, where you take a break with a colleague, friend or stranger, grab a cuppa and have a chat. It is important to recognise that we would advise people to take time to do this every day and not just on the 3rd Monday in January.

On this day, my branch will be at our local railway station (where we have a partnership with Network Rail), will be handing out tea bags to commuters to raise vital funds to help our branch do more to support our local community. Unfortunately, I won’t be there on Monday, as I will be delivering a Mental Health First Aid training course in Bristol, but I will certainly be encouraging tea and discussions with my training group!