Karen Ladym, Welfare Officer and Mental Health Programme Project Lead for Racing Welfare, on the importance of World Mental Health Day.
I have been a part of the welfare team at Racing Welfare for 14 years now and during that time my understanding of mental health in the racing industry has come on leaps and bounds. However, it can still be seen as a bit of a taboo subject and the importance of days like World Mental Health Day cannot be overestimated.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health for All’ and this sits so well with our ethos at Racing Welfare. We are here to support everyone in the industry and are consciously moving towards a more preventative approach to mental health. We are working hard to encourage people to look after their mental health in the same way as they would their physical health. It is all too common for people not to think about their mental health until they find it difficult to manage how they think, feel and behave with respect to the daily stresses of life and this starts to have an impact.
Through our website and social media channels we provide a wide range of advice and guidance to help people look after their mental health and wellbeing. Our Mental Health First Aid courses have played a big part in developing awareness around mental health. Our aim is to eventually have a qualified mental health first aider in every workplace.
Statistics from The Mental Health Foundation show that a staggering 70 million work days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health issues and yet the majority of people still don’t feel able to talk about it.
Our courses aim to break down the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health and give an understanding of what poor and good mental health looks like. We also give people the confidence to start a conversation and support others who may be struggling.
Covid-19 has meant that we are unable to deliver our mental health courses in person. However, we have recently launched our half-day awareness courses online, with the first one selling out within 24 hours. We are currently working on delivering our two-day Mental Health First Aid course virtually, too, which will be a great addition to our services. Anyone who undertakes the two-day course will become an accredited mental health first aider on completion.
My hope is that our approach to mental health we will be instrumental in getting the whole industry not only talking more about the subject but also developing a culture of support for everyone.
How about, to mark World Mental Health Day, we all start one conversation with a friend about mental health?
Find out more about Racing Welfare’s Mental Health Aware Courses here