HUG: putting ‘u’ at the centre of mental health in the Highlands and Islands

Some of SSEN’s Mental Health First Aiders with Joanna Higgs, HUG Development Worker (front centre).

“Every one of us, as human beings, has ‘mental health’.  Not all of us will experience mental illness.  At any one time one in four of us will have a mental health problem. One in three of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lifetime.”  HUG Action for Mental Health

Mental Health First Aiders at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have received valuable advice thanks to HUG Action for Mental Health whose members recently visited SSEN’s Inverness depot.

First aiders from across SSEN’s Highlands and Islands region including Orkney, Western Isles, Kyle of Lochalsh, Skye, Caithness and Inverness came together to attend a session delivered by HUG to give them an understanding of the vital work the charity does through collective advocacy across the Highlands and beyond.

Founded in 1996, HUG is a network of people living in the Highlands who have experience of mental ill health. The organisation now works with a membership of over 350 people, all taking part from within other agencies’ mental health support services, dotted throughout the Highlands. HUG campaigns to improve the rights, services and treatment of people with mental health problems, challenging stigma and discrimination, and improving understanding through awareness raising.

Pamela Harvey, Customer Relationship Manager for SSEN’s Highlands and Islands region, said:

“We really appreciate Joanna and Mags from HUG taking the time to visit our Inverness depot, bringing together Mental Health First Aiders from across our region and building our awareness of the mental health journey through personal experiences.

“As a region, we are committed to removing the stigma of talking about mental health and we are proud to have so many people in our Highland region who want to help their colleagues going through difficult times by signposting them to professional services including our own Employee Assistance Programme and self-help techniques.”

Joanna Higgs, HUG Development Worker, added:

“It was great to meet such a dedicated team of people at SSEN – an excellent example of what a large employer can achieve and offer to make the workplace a safe and easier place to be.

“At HUG we are strong campaigners for mental health and safety to have equal status and importance as physical health and safety; indeed to have it embedded within workplace health and safety as general.”

SSEN has been training a network of Mental Health First Aiders to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems or crises. Mental Health First Aiders are equipped with the knowledge to direct colleagues living with mental health problems to sources of professional support, helping to remove stigma and fear and to give confidence in approaching a person in distress.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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