A mental health first aider who completed his training thanks to funding from our charity has spoken of the benefits the role has brought to both his professional and personal life.

Graeme Potts, who is ESNEFT’s charitable funds accountant, jumped at the chance to complete the course after developing an interest in mental health when a former colleague had a breakdown.

The training equipped him with vital new skills which he has since used to help numerous staff across ESNEFT, along with family, friends and even complete strangers.

“The course gave me the right language to use and much more confidence to have difficult conversations,” said Graeme. “It made me think carefully about what I say and how I say it.

“I also learnt that it’s really important to help people feel like they have permission to speak by showing them that you will listen in a completely non-judgemental way. We are there to provide people with a safe space where they know its ok to be vulnerable – sometimes all you ne
ed to do is sit and listen and it can make a real difference.

“I find the role incredibly worthwhile and am so grateful that the charity has been able to fund the training. It has made me a much better listener for my family and colleagues and was especially beneficial during lockdown, when we were able to help a lot of staff who were feeling anxious and isolated.

“We have all been in situations when we want support but don’t receive it and it feels wretched. That’s why mental health first aid is so important – by offering help and showing empathy, we can let people know that they are not alone.”