Over 900 Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAiders) have been trained at the BBC to provide initial advice and signposting to anyone who needs help with a mental health issue support a positive conversation about mental health in the workplace.
As part of ‘Open Up’, an internal awareness campaign that forms part of the BBC’s Mental Health Season, some MHFAiders have shared their own experiences relating to mental health and wellbeing with a view to starting conversations about mental health at work, which can encourage people who need help to seek it.
Amongst them is Nelson, a Multi-Platform Producer at BBC Sport, who was motivated to become a Mental Health First Aider having lived with depression for many years himself. After receiving help for his mental ill health, Nelson wanted to help other people going through the same thing:
“It’s an extremely positive thing for the BBC to support Mental Health First Aiders. As a Mental Health First Aider, I’ve seen there’s a huge need to help people, and to let people know they’re not alone in what they are going through.
“I’ve spoken to around 15 members of staff about their various issues who already knew me, and others have come to me via recommendations from mutual friends.
“There have been some very tough talks, and I have needed to access more specialist support for those. The more we are open about these issues the better it will be for the workforce all round.
“I’m happy to be there to help others with their issues, so ultimately I’m doing what I want to do in life. It’s great seeing someone feel positive after a few talks and to help them see that everything is not always going to be doom and gloom.”
The campaign, which the corporation has highlighted during Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, aims to share information about its mental health and wellbeing services with the BBC workforce. Staff have been reminded that they can access training to help them develop mental health and resilience skills, and that a range of specialist support services, such as counselling, trauma support and occupational health, are available.
The BBC’s Mental Health Season brings together a range of content across network and regional television, national and local radio and digital platforms. The aim is to showcase the BBC’s ongoing commitment to shining a light on mental health issues and how they affect individuals and society today.
Bob Shennan, BBC Group Managing Director commented:
“Public service broadcasting is all about highlighting issues that affect our audience, and looking after our mental health and wellbeing is so important. On air, we’ll share and signpost practical advice and coping strategies to help audiences look after their mental health and seek help if they need to, and we’ll be making sure our own staff know about the help which is available to them.”