During Mental Health Awareness Week, Racing Welfare’s Karen Ladym discusses the support available to racing’s workforce
Being the lead Mental Health First Aid Instructor for the charity has given me the opportunity to reach a wide variety of people in all areas of the racing industry. We now have a team of instructors travelling around the country delivering Mental Health First Aid courses. These courses help train people to become Mental Health First Aiders and to recognise the signs and symptoms of someone experiencing mental health issues and to offer their support. We also deliver Mental Health Awareness training, which encourages people to look after their own mental health in the same way as they would their physical health but to also have the confidence to start up a conversation and help others.
I remember the precise moment I made the decision to change my career. I was walking down Newmarket High Street when I suddenly thought I wanted a job which would make a difference to people’s everyday lives. I had knowledge of the racing industry, as both my grandparents and my father had been in racing, so when I saw the opportunity to work as a Welfare Officer at Racing Welfare, I jumped at the chance. That was 16 years ago and during this time I have worked as a Welfare Officer and casework supervisor, giving me a wealth of experience working with people.
My passion for mental health and wellbeing came from these roles and my own personal experience. That’s why my current role as Project Lead for Mental Health Services, which is part of the award-winning Workforce Wellbeing Programme, is an absolute dream job for me. My role allows me to combine my experience working with racing’s people and the formal training I have gained to become an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and counsellor.
Range of services for all
Our mental health programme offers many services to those working in the horseracing industry. One of those services is Woebot, an easy-to-use app that can help you track your mood, identify patterns and give insight to issues or concerns. Woebot is an Artificial Intelligence Counsellor, though when you sign up for the app and enter the code cfracing, you have access to a human counsellor, if required. Another of our services is Sleepstation, an NHS-accredited sleep programme designed by doctors and backed by science. The online programme can help you sleep better and lead to positive changes in mental health as a result.
Racing Welfare’s vision is to have a Mental Health First Aider in every workplace within the horseracing industry. To have someone qualified to spot those early warning signs of poor mental health and to have the confidence to talk to them, guide them to appropriate support and make a real difference to people’s lives. It’s often not until our mental health fails us and starts to affect how we cope with our everyday lives that we start to take notice. We know that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue during their lifetime and it is one of the biggest disabilities causing people to be absent from work. Yet we know there is still stigma and discrimination around mental health, especially in the workplace.
As this week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is ‘Loneliness’, it’s important to highlight that anyone in the racing industry can be susceptible to feeling lonely and isolated. Even someone standing in a room full of people can still feel lonely. Anyone working in or retired from the horseracing industry who experiences mental health challenges or loneliness and isolation can get support by calling Racing’s Support Line 24/7 on 0800 6300 443 or visit racingwelfare.co.uk