Mental Health Awareness Week: Ben tells his story
An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service firefighter is sharing mental health advice during Mental Health Awareness Week to encourage people to reach out for support when they need it.
We can all struggle with mental health issues, no matter who you are. As a Service, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has support available for colleagues and encourages employees to seek support when they need it including its Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) co-ordinators, making sure firefighters who have been involved in a traumatic incident get support.
Watch Manager Ben Turner is a Traumatic Risk Management (TRiM) volunteer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, helping colleagues to get support after distressing experiences.
But Ben, who is based at Clacton Fire Station, has sought help himself recently following a difficult past 12 months.
He has shared his story as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) to encourage people to talk about mental wellbeing, ask for support and keep an eye on their colleagues and loved ones.
Ben says people should care for their mental wellbeing in the same way they look after their physical health.
He said: “If you cut your arm you don’t think twice about asking for a first aider. With mental health, you can feel awful about the situation you perceive yourself to be in but carry on regardless.
“When I first speak to colleagues they say: ‘I’m all good’. But everybody has a ‘bucket’ where they put their worries and if you are not doing things to empty the bucket it spills over. It’s easy to mask the fact you are not okay.
“Mental fitness is no different to physical fitness. The better your mental fitness is, the more easily you will cope with what life throws at you.”
Ben admits the last 12 months have been particularly difficult, particularly dealing with the loss of his close friend Aston Everett.
Aston, 54, a former colleague of Ben’s on Clacton’s Green Watch, died on 5 January after collapsing while on duty at the Service’s Urban Search and Rescue Station in Lexden.
Ben said: “I was offered a counsellor and I took it up. If it had been one thing, even though it was horrific, I probably would have worked through it but with the accumulation of the things going on in my life, I said: ‘I am struggling to cope, now I need some help.’
“It has made such a massive difference. It has helped me to get back to where I was before and built up my resilience.”
This Mental Health Awareness Week, Ben is encouraging everyone to talk about mental wellbeing.
He said: “Everybody has had moments, weeks, months or longer where they are finding life really challenging – don’t be afraid to talk about it. I don’t know anybody who has made things worse by saying: ‘I need some help here.'
“Be aware changes in people’s tone or behaviour. Ask them how they are feeling. If they say they are OK but don’t sound like they are, just check again.
“Don’t be afraid to ask. They might not want to open up, but the fact you have shown you care goes a long way.”
There is support in Essex for those who need it, head over to www.essex.gov.uk/mental-health/get-help-and-support to find out more.
Page last updated 13 May, 2021