Seeking support for your mental wellbeing early on, before you reach a point of crisis where your day-to-day life is seriously impacted, can be difficult to do – but it’s the best time to receive help and make a positive change.
And it’s this idea that’s central to the Hope Programme.
We began working with social enterprise Hope for the Community last year on delivering the innovative online mental wellbeing programme and, following its initial success, we will be running several more programmes throughout this year.
One of the people to attend one of the first roll-outs was Bobby Lennox, 40, a Station Commander with Scottish FRS. He is also an Area Coordinator for us and often shares health and wellbeing information with his colleagues.
While he says he’s never consciously struggled with his mental health before, the job can be stressful at times, and some days can feel more of a challenge than others.
Therefore, after seeing information about the Hope Programme circulated, he wanted to sign up and try it out himself – not only to find out advice and tips to feed back to his colleagues, but also to see if he could find new ways of managing his own concerns and anxieties.
“I’d seen the Hope Programme was coming up and was interested in learning some new ways of supporting my own mental wellbeing. Maintaining a healthy work life balance can be difficult at times, the stresses of everyday life can sometimes build up and impact your mental health,” says Bobby.
“Up in Scotland there’s quite a macho culture still, with people not asking for help until they’re in crisis and it’s too late, so I wanted to get involved, find out what it was about and hopefully encourage colleagues to take part in it too. It’s about removing that stigma and going from being very reactive to proactive.”
The Hope Programme, which can be taken completely at your own pace, combines advice, videos, quizzes, audio and more across topics like: managing stress, smarter goal setting, gratitude, character strengths, physical activity, eating well, coping with fatigue, practicing mindfulness, communication and relationships.
It also offers participants the opportunity to chat to each other throughout in virtual ‘cafes’, should they wish.
“I didn’t get as involved in the forum part of the course, but the fact the information was bite-sized and you could go at your own pace really suited my lifestyle,” says Bobby.
“It can be hard to find the time in your life, but I did it before I went to bed because you can access it whenever, on your phone.
“I was only involved in the last café, and I’m actually regretful that I didn’t join more of those because I felt they were really good. Having the interaction with people was really good. You don’t have to say anything in these café meet-ups either, if you don’t want, you can have your camera turned off and sit in the background and listen.”
Bobby now hopes to encourage others to give it a go too, having found it so beneficial himself.
“We’re constantly in some sort of anxious state, for different reasons – whether at work or in our personal life.”
“I’m a mental health champion at my work and some of the stuff was fantastic to feed back to others,” he adds.
“We’re constantly in some sort of anxious state, for different reasons – whether at work or in our personal life – so accepting it’s always going to be there and it’s natural was a game-changer for me. It helped me change my thinking.
“The gratitude stuff was fantastic too, we spend so much time focusing on what we don’t have, we don’t cherish what we have and that was really helpful for me. Writing it down really helped to capture that too.
“The goal-setting was good as well, I’ve achieved a few things I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s no major stuff, but it’s things I’ve wanted to do for a while.”
To find out more about the Hope Programme and sign up for free to one of the ones this year, click below.
You can also join our ‘Share Your Story Group in MyFFC to chat to others who have received our support, or enquire about sharing your own story.