Take A Step

Take A Step is a counselling and addiction therapy practice, based in Birmingham/Warwickshire. Offering therapy for people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, grief and bereavement and addiction for alcohol, drugs and gambling.

We are members of the Health in Construction Leadership Group, which helps raise awareness and address the stigma of poor mental health, and promotes positive mental wellbeing across the construction, logistics and other related industries.

We support people affected by grief and work closely with the HCLG to reduce the risks of suicide. We also offer support to people to enable them to cope with life after addiction, by introducing strategies and techniques, that can help them cope with craving, and monitor the warning signs of a lapse/relapse.

Life during addiction can be erratic, being unable to control the addiction can cause overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and loneliness, and can lead to suicide.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

We deliver mental health awareness days within schools and local community-based charities, echoing the work of HCLH and Mates in Mind. We issue leaflets to local businesses, highlighting ‘World Cancer Day’, ‘World Mental Health Day’. We also provide information on our own mental and wellbeing scheme.

We work alongside local charity based organisations, delivering programmes such as ‘Staying Stopped’ and ‘Life Changes’ for drug, alcohol and gambling addiction. We promote suicide awareness and encourage people to talk.

We offer support for individuals whose drug or alcohol use, or gambling has become problematic. We offer the same support to their families and friends.

We promote good mental health and wellbeing to local businesses and encourage them to sign up to our Take A Step employee wellbeing scheme, so that employees can talk to someone in confidence. Encourage employees to listen to their colleagues, if they have a problem, Recognising the warning signs. Encourage them to share suicidal thoughts to close friends and family.

Currently supporting Warwickshire Police, issuing leaflets on suicide prevention for their mental health and wellbeing board within the department.

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What are your current priorities?

To work more closely with local councils highlighting the risks of suicide in ‘high risk’ groups, such as the homeless. To get involved and get the support of local councils to run community campaigns highlighting suicide awareness.

Reach out to Human Resources to promote our own ‘Take A Step Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing Scheme’. With the few business we have signed up to this scheme, this has proved beneficial, and a good response have been met with employees ‘reaching out’ for counselling. These businesses are now seeing mental health as a ‘priority’ within their organisation.

Encourage people to use their free time to become volunteers – sending out the message.

Work more closely with the Criminal Justice System – highlighting the risk of suicide with people with a history of self-harm.

Encourage the NHS to signpost people to private counsellors where there are ‘no waiting list’. We feel that it is imperative now, for private counsellors to receive funding, to reduce this waiting list. People with suicidal thoughts cannot wait 6 months or more, they need urgent attention. Provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide. Offer our services to the local NHS, to assist with waiting list.

Work with more employers, to provide skills, clarity and confidence to employers on how to raise awareness, improve understanding, and address the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Encourage employers to include mental health and wellbeing in their team meetings, presentations and briefs, toolbox talks, etc,.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

Human Resource departments of local organisations are not responsive when relaying the importance of mental health and wellbeing. We are currently being met with negative views- “all of our staff are OK, we don’t have anyone suffering from any mental health issues”.

We need to change this attitude, by raising awareness with employers, and improve the understanding. Possibly by introducing more national seminars of ‘Suicide Prevention and Mental Health and Wellbeing’.

Some organisations are unsure about how to address this stigma. A good starting point would be to consult with staff and encourage them to think about hoe they can get involved and translate good intentions to meaningful activities. This can be conducted as part of team meetings, and training.

One of the biggest reservations employers have around drawing attention to mental in the workplace is the actual fear of a significant number of employees who are experiencing mental health problems. They just might not be speaking about it due to the stigma surrounding it and the perceived/’or not’, embarrassment. But of course, being able to disclose a mental health issue can directly help with absenteeism, and can keep someone in work with reasonable adjustments made.

A lack of clear data around the impact of mental health on an organisation is a key challenge. There are still organisations who respond to us with ‘they cannot see a measured returned on investment into signing up to the employee mental health and wellbeing scheme’.

This challenge for us is the marketing investment we would need to target the vast organisations in the West Midlands and Warwickshire area. We currently reply upon ‘word of mouth’ from existing members.

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