Staff from Renfrewshire Council’s waste services team have taken the initiative to tackle the stigma around talking about men’s mental health.

Council staff have had the chance to take part in mental health workshops as part of the council’s support for World Mental Health Day 2022.

Designed to encourage people to speak about their feelings, the workshops help people identify trigger points and aim to provide them with coping mechanisms at times of stress.

 

Led by the Council’s Waste Services Manager Jock Templeton, the sessions saw 32 people take part in the training and further sessions will be available for staff to attend as part of a programme of support available to support their wellbeing.

Jock, a qualified metal health first aider, wanted to provide the sessions to tackle the stigma around mental health, particularly in men, having lost a loved one to suicide.

Jock said: “I’ve been a mental health first aider for around seven years now and I’m proud to have helped around 100 people inside and outside the workplace.

“When I lost my brother-in-law, I was struggling and sought out counselling to help me get through what was a difficult time so I know the difference that it can make for people.

“There is a stigma around mental health, particularly in men, so I think it is so important that we encourage people to talk to each other, to their colleagues and to professionals, as asking a simple, or a difficult, question really could be the difference in saving someone’s life.

“The workshops are designed to raise awareness on what to look for, how to support people and how to recognise the signs in yourself.

“It was great to chat with fellow colleagues and pass on skills that they can take with them into the workplace and into their own lives, and I look forward to speaking to more of our teams in the future too.”

In addition to the workshops, the council’s waste, streetscene and building services teams are being provided with new high viz uniforms which will feature the contact name and number of either Breathing Space, the Samaritans or RAMH on the back to encourage people in the community to reach out if they need it.

Jock said: “In the first instance, this was about supporting our staff to be open and feel comfortable speaking to myself and others about any issues they’re having, but I also want our teams to be champions for the local community.

“Seeing these numbers on the back of the team’s high viz might be the push someone needs to seek support and if we can save one life then it will be all be worth it.”

The high viz vets have been donated by local PPE supplier Greenham as part of their support of World Mental Health Day.

In addition to the workshops, a team from Breathing Space visited the Underwood Road depot in Paisley to speak to staff and outline what support is available for them should they need it.

Tony McLaren, National Co-ordinator, Breathing Space, said: “As it is World Mental Health Day, we are delighted to see the teams taking up this creative approach to supporting each other in the workplace.

“Healthy conversations about mental health can happen in all sorts of situations and it’s so important that people know they can open up when they are feeling down and be heard.

“Breathing Space are here to listen for anyone who is struggling with mental health or needs emotional support, either on the phone on 0800 83 85 or through our webchat service at breathingspace.scot ”

To support staff all year round, the council has a network of mental health first aiders who are ready to speak to colleagues in times of crisis or when they just need some additional support.

Free confidential counselling is also available and information resources are in place for staff to access when they need it on the staff section of the council website.