Flying the flag for mental health

Gill MartinWe value the welfare of our staff. As part of this, the Met Office’s Mental Health First Aider team is a support service designed to help staff feel confident to access support at the right time. Mental Health First Aiders are volunteers from across the Met Office including Gill Martin, a Science Manager in Climate Science, who talks about her role as a Mental Health First Aider at the Met Office.

“I've encountered mental health issues within my close family, friends and colleagues for many years. I find the stigma attached to such things very frustrating as it often prevents people seeking the help they need. This also applies to those who care for them, who often need real support themselves. That's why I jumped at the chance to join the Mental Health First Aider team in 2016.

There are around 30 Mental Health First Aiders spread across different parts of the Met Office, recognisable by distinctive flags on our desks and lanyards around our necks. We try to have a visible presence around the Met Office by supporting national and international events such as Mental Health Awareness Week. These events encourage people to consider their mental health and wellbeing, and that of those around them, and I find that they often prompt people to get in touch with one of us.

As a Mental Health First Aider I’ve been contacted by several people over the past couple of years, both for individual help and to speak to groups about the role and what help is available in the Met Office. There are lots of sources of help, both online and through internal discussion groups, as well as through our Employee Assistance Programme. I always emphasise the need to try to keep talking to people, wherever possible, and not to ignore the problem. I see our role as similar to any first aider: to encourage people to seek the appropriate help at an early stage to limit the condition and promote recovery. Ultimately, the Met Office’s key resource is its staff, so ensuring their well-being is paramount.”