Lyndsey Thomson is our Careers and Outreach coordinator and one of the first of our colleagues to take on the additional role of Mental Health First Aider supporting employees at the Law Society.
As most of us are now aware, mental illness is one of Scotland’s major health challenges. It is estimated that one in three of us are affected by poor mental health at some stage in our lives and one in three GP appointments relate to mental health problems.
In today’s fast-paced society, it’s not too surprising that the most commonly reported illnesses are depression and anxiety, with many cases unfortunately leading to suicide. These illnesses are also highly reported within the legal profession, which is one of the reasons I was really pleased when the Society took steps to implement the role of Mental Health First Aiders in our organisation.
As an employee of the regulatory body for the legal profession in Scotland, I was delighted that we had identified that there was a need within the legal profession to better manage our emotional wellbeing and I feel that the appointment of myself and Sharon Brownlee as Mental Health First Aiders is testament to the commitment shown by the Society to emphasise that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Being a Mental Health First Aider is not as scary as it sounds. In reality, it’s a bit like Ronseal – it does exactly what it says on the tin! We are on hand to offer assistance in a crisis situation with the overall aim of preserving life. We also aim to prevent deterioration of any injury or illness and provide comfort to a person who is ill, injured, distressed or simply in need of an ear to listen.
We are not experts (and will never claim to be) and we will always sign-post to and encourage the appropriate professional and or self-help but as a member of the wider legal profession, it’s encouraging just to know that we are offering this service and walking the walk whilst promoting positive mental wellbeing via Lawscot Wellbeing.
If becoming a Mental Health First Aider is something you are interested in, I can highly recommend the training. Whilst this 12-hour course contains some very heavy content and is quite hard-hitting, it’s also really enjoyable and certainly opens your eyes to mental wellbeing and the part we can play in promoting positive mental health by small actions such as showing you care, taking an interest and simply asking "are you okay?"
Monday 10 September was World Suicide Prevention Day and having lost my sister, Stephanie, to suicide seven years ago, I like to think that I could have made a difference if I had been more aware of mental illness and better equipped in crisis intervention. In Stephanie’s case I will never know but what I do now know, is that I won’t ever hesitate to intervene in a crisis and simply ask the question...