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Supporting improved mental health at Cafcass

 

One of the Prime Minister’s first announcements in 2017 was around a package to tackle mental health in Britain. In 2017, Cafcass will also focus on this area, helping its practitioners understand more about mental health in the workplace. Paul Dockerty, Senior Health and Wellbeing Officer at Cafcass, talks about his role and our upcoming mental health initiative.

“Cafcass is excited to be working in partnership with Mental Health First Aid England over the next few months to help raise awareness and support improved mental health in the workplace,” Paul explains. “Managers across Cafcass, as well as a network of Mental Health First Aiders, will receive specialist training on understanding mental health and its different forms. The training will also cover effective strategies and techniques to help manage when good mental health is at risk. The First Aiders will share their learning within teams and make themselves available for informal discussions.”

Paul emphasises that changes in physical health don’t just affect the way the body works – they often have a significant impact on mental wellbeing too. Poor mental health can, likewise, affect your physical state. Paul explains: “The key to developing real resilience in our day-to-day lives is by taking a holistic approach to managing our health.”

One-to-one wellbeing sessions

A big part of Paul’s role involves assisting Cafcass practitioners with questions around their health and wellbeing. He offers one-to-one consultations over the phone and in person. “My job is to help staff find solutions to their individual health concerns. Whether it is a question about nutrition, a specific sleeping pattern, managing stresses or maybe good posture while working – we can think about techniques and look at additional resources to help manage it.

“I also coordinate Cafcass wellbeing days across our various offices around the country. These include group seminars and there is often time set aside towards the end of the day for one-to-one sessions as well. Those staff who have taken part have said the days have been helpful.”

Paul is a keen advocate for the power of mindfulness. “Mindfulness is one of the most studied techniques in science recently and it’s something we can all benefit from. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in a way that increases our ability to manage difficult situations. Some of the scientifically proven benefits include reduced stress, improved sleep, better management of emotions and relationships as well as improved focus and attention. We have an intranet page dedicated to mindfulness for our practitioners to find out more about it and use the technique to their advantage.”

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