"Having conversations about mental health ultimately saves lives"
24 January 2019 By Jamie Gibbons
Jamie Gibbons works in our Newcastle office as a Customer Services Manager. She is also one of our Mental Health First Aiders, a group of colleagues specially trained to support colleagues should they wish to talk to someone about a mental health related issue. Jamie recently attended an event run by Tesco, 'Strangers on a Bridge' which brought together Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn, to talk about their shared experience of mental health and to reflect on how we can all support those who may be experiencing mental ill health.
"I'm one of our Mental Health First Aiders, which means that I'm specially trained to support colleagues should they wish to talk to someone about a mental health related issue. We aim to offer a non-judgemental listening service, to signpost effective support channels, and to speak to colleagues about a number of tools that are available to them.
Having suffered with my own mental ill health through multiple bereavements and fertility issues, I appreciate how daunting it can be to talk about your mental health, but I've also learned the power of someone listening non-judgementally, supporting me and giving me hope. This is why I was delighted to get involved with the Mental Health First Aiders scheme, to use my experience in a positive way to help others.
In my role as a Mental Health First Aider, I was invited to the ‘Strangers on a Bridge’ event run by Tesco. This event brought together Jonny Benjamin MBE, who in January 2008 was considering taking his own life, and Neil Laybourn, the ‘stranger on the bridge’ who saw him and talked him down from the edge.
Six years on, the pair now work together full-time visiting schools, hospitals, prisons and workplaces to help end the stigma of mental health, by talking openly about it.
It was great to hear from both Jonny and Neil who talked so honestly and candidly. They shared some key thoughts, which really resonated with me– everyone can help, everyone can be an ally to those suffering from mental ill-health and everyone can listen.
Having conversations about mental health really can reduce the stigma associated with it and ultimately can save lives and I am delighted that Tesco Bank are helping to enable these conversations to take place.
At Tesco Bank, we run a number of initiatives to help promote and encourage healthy living among our colleagues. Across our three offices, we have a number of colleagues who have received specialist training to become Mental Health First Aiders, and who are able to offer non-judgemental listening for colleagues who would like someone to talk to about Mental Health related issues.